This article analyses to what extent the Burmese KNU insurgency made use of external support from states, refugees, and diasporas. Based on extensive fieldwork it is concluded that support from neighbouring states and refugees has for years kept the Karen rebellion alive. Western countries perceived forms of resistance to the illegitimate Burmese regime as just and have therefore played a crucial role in the continuation of conflict in Karen State. It is important that policymakers and donors as well as executing organizations continue to reflect critically on the way they exercise their work. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.