FBR Team Brings Relief to Displaced Families on the Border
24 May, 2022
Karen State, Burma
The border between Burma and Thailand has become increasingly stressed over the past year as close to one million people continue fleeing Burma Army violence while civil war intensifies throughout the country. Last month, Free Burma Rangers (FBR) teams spent a week serving 800 of those who have fled, both reactively to and preemptively from attacks, and are now living in make-shift shelters hiding along the Burma-Thailand border. Of these 800 people, most were women, children, and elderly men. While some were supported by local non-government organizations (NGOs), many still lacked basic resources like food, water, and shelter.
Local FBR teams worked together to strategically travel to seven different IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps. A nearby Burma Army camp and Border Guard Force patrol forced the FBR teams to take detoured routes to reach the different camps and take extra caution on their movements in this area. Besides encountering different Ethnic Armed Organization (EAO) checkpoints, the team drove through a series of ghost towns seeing almost no one in sight- an eerie sign that these villages had already fled from the Burma Army.
Upon arriving at different IDP camps, the FBR teams distributed clothes, rice, noodles, oil, salt, soap, shampoo, mosquito nets, tarps, and water, as well as installing ten 5-gallon bucket water filters. Each visit included a Good Life Club (GLC) program. GLC leaders shared stories of hope, played games with the children, watched movies, and popped popcorn over the fire. Smiles and laughter were shared as children opened the lid in amazement of seeing popcorn for the first time. FBR families spent the night at different camps under the stars and in the clefts of the rocks where the IDPs were living. In between camp visits one night, the FBR team heard from a distance the unsettling sound of mortar fire followed by multiple explosions: sadly, a sound heard by many living in and near Burma.
On the last day of the trip, FBR team members accompanied a group to conduct a recon of one of the attacked villages the IDPs had fled from. This was the first time villagers had been back since the attack two weeks prior when Burma Army jets dropped between four and six bombs on the village.
The night of the attack was retold to the FBR team: In the dark of the night on March 26, 2022, farmers slept in their fields after a long day’s work when they were awakened suddenly by the sound of jets, a flash of bright light, and a thunderclap of an explosion. Making their way to where they usually sleep, they saw smoldering craters and damaged remains of the farmhouses. Not knowing when the Burma Army may bomb again, they fled their town immediately. 400 people from this area are now scattered in different IDP camps along the border.
“Why would the Burma Army attack a small farm town like this?” FBR staff asked the village security man, Saw Ta Noo. Saw Ta Noo believes the Burma Army tried to bomb what the Burma Army may have thought be a resistence leader’s house because the farm had a large house and property. But no one knows for sure.” The seemingly incalculable and reckless attacks by the Burma Army keeps many civilians stuck in fear and uncertainty of when the next attack will be. Sharing the eternal message of good life with communities, who have lived through terror like this, may be just as important to their well-being as providing water filters and mosquito nets. FBR continues working to give practical help, hope and love to those suffering in Burma and beyond its borders.
Thanks and God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers