Thai authorities are preparing to handle an influx of Burmese migrants amid the slaughter following the military coup in the neigbouring country.
Security agencies in Chiang Rai province, which shares a border with the former British territory, believe thousands will flee amid a violent crackdown on protests.
Four types of refugees may include normal Burmese workers desperate for money, protest leaders who are seeking asylum in the third country, foreigners who are stranded in Myanmar seeking to return to their homeland and Thai citizens.
Officials said that Chiang Rai’s sports stadium will be used as a temporary facility to receive the refugees. They will be screened for Covid-19 and sorted to locations specified for each type.
Unrest has spread across Myanmar after the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power on February 1. Wide-spread protestes have been met with a violent response from police and soldiers. The army has used tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds on civilians and protesters. At least 130 people have been killed as of March 15.
International pressure on Myanmar, still also known as Burma, has escalated with the U.S. government putting sanctions on the country to strengthen its response to the military coup.
Burma was governed by Britain from 1824 to 1948, during which time it became the second-wealthiest country in Southeast Asia but following independence was ruled by the military until 2011 when democratic reforms began.
It changed its name to Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi later took over as leader before introducing democratic reforms.