Region of Concern: Myanmar
Written By Mridul Mahendroo; Edited by Amy McGee
Date: January 26, 2023
Payathonzu, Kayin State, Myanmar
Event: On January 23, the Myanmar junta troops and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) clashed at Payathonzu, close to the Thai border. The anti-junta troops attacked administrative offices, setting fire to several buildings. This led to continuous fighting throughout the night, but no casualty report was released. The fighting intensified on January 24 morning and residents fled the town. This event is linked to civil disobedience movements, as the KNLA refused to negotiate with the junta unless the National Unity Government participated.
Significance: Anti-junta troops will likely continue targeting administrative offices which will likely result in armed retaliation. The strategic importance of securing trade routes to Thailand makes it likely that the junta will deploy additional troops and target villages using airstrikes. Affected populations will likely flee to refugee camps in Thailand but are not likely to be adequately equipped and will likely suffer from wounds. Ground operations by the junta will likely lead to human rights violations, such as torture, arbitrary arrests, rape, and executions. The junta’s counterattack will likely urge local populations to join resistance militias, which will very likely obstruct negotiation efforts, escalating violence in the region.
Recommendations: Local humanitarian organizations such as Chin Human Rights Organization should provide information to populations on the junta’s positions and practical advice on reaching Thailand. They should regularly communicate with organizations in Thailand and provide alerts when villagers flee toward the border. NGOs like Thailand Rescue Committee and CARE International should increase their presence at the border to receive incoming refugees and raise funds through local and international donors. They should also request the government and the UNHCR to provide additional food, medical supplies, tents, and sleeping bags. These organizations should provide mental health support to refugees through the intervention of psychologists and deliver training to others, creating a framework for mental care.
 Pro-democracy militias burn down junta offices in Kayin State, Radio Free Asia, January 2023, https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/kayin-battle-01242023023848.html