The situation at this stage appears to be brewing into a minor humanitarian crisis, said Steve Pearce, founder of the International Veterans Association.
Hundreds of refugees have crossed the border at Mae Sariang in Mae Hong Son province. “This includes women and children,” Mr Pearce said.
“Apparently they are arriving with little more than what they are wearing,” he added.
“I am sure that most of us have been waiting for the news that the migration of refugees coming from Myanmar would hit Thailand. As always with the migration of refugees, it gets messy as they arrive with little to survive with. The situation is developing into a minor humanitarian crisis,” Mr Pearce told IVA members in a call to action yesterday (Apr 4).
“The Thai military have arrived and will likely be corralling the refugees into refugee initial holding areas and will be trying to document them before handing them to the second area run by the aid agencies,” he said.
“Many of the arrivals are men, women and children and have little more than the shirts on their backs. Clearly we can’t be deeply involved in providing help, if for no other reason, none of us have been vaccinated yet. But we can help. We are stepping up to support the efforts to make these poor people more comfortable. The way we will do it is to start the collection of much-needed equipment to send up to them,” he added.
“Please take this warning order seriously and do all that you can to find donors for this equipment. I am arranging the use of a warehouse near the area for the equipment to be distributed from,” Mr Pearce noted.
Essential items being collected include: basic medical supplies, dried foods, tinned foods, blankets, towels, washing bowls, soap/shampoo, toothpaste/brush, traps and string, candles, cooking pots and utensils, old clothes and footwear, sanitary towels, pampers and children’s toys.
“Donations of kit can be delivered to my house, I can supply the address of course. I will find a way to get it to the Mar Sariang warehouse,” Mr Pearce told The Phuket News.
He also pointed out for those looking to make donations of clothes that most of the refugees would be of smaller sizes.
Non-governmental organisations looking to provide aid supplies to refugees fleeing Myanmar near the border must first contact local authorities, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has announced.
“We have secured a warehouse in the area for us to take the donated equipment before we hand it over to the lead aid agency working the operation.
“Pat Cotter from Phuket Rugby is in Chiang Mai and is making sure that whatever arrives, gets to the right people,” he added.
Any persons looking to donate any items or otherwise help with the effort are asked to call Mr Pearce directly on 089 5870819.
For more information about the International Veterans Association, visit the website PhuketVeterans.com or the International Veterans Association Facebook page. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org