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Thailand says deliveries of humanitarian aid to war-wracked Myanmar are expected to start soon

MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) — Thailand expects to open up a humanitarian corridor in about a month to deliver aid to suffering civilians in war-torn Myanmar, Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said Thursday after inspecting the planned staging area in the northern Thai province of Tak.

The plan, initiated by Thailand with the endorsement of Myanmar and other fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is relatively small in scale and initially would reach just a tiny proportion of the 2.6 million civilians the U.N. estimates are displaced throughout Myanmar.

Myanmar is wracked by a nationwide armed conflict that began after the army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021 and suppressed widespread nonviolent protests that sought a return to democratic rule.

Large areas of the country, especially frontier areas, are now contested or controlled by anti-military resistance forces, pro-democracy fighters allied with armed ethnic minority organizations that have been fighting for greater autonomy for decades.

Thai officials have said they expect about 20,000 displaced people will benefit from the plan in its initial stage. The Thai and Myanmar Red Cross societies would implement distribution, to be monitored by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management.

Other details of the cross-border aid plan remain incomplete or unrevealed, but Parnpree described it at a news conference as a government-to-government deal, meaning activities on the Myanmar side of the border will be handled by that country’s ruling military council.

The ongoing hostilities, however, make unlikely any expansion of what is considered a pilot project, confined for now to a