More than 1,000 IDPs in Need of Aid in Kyaukme, Northern Shan State

Thursday, October 8, 2020

More than 1,000 local people have been displaced by fighting between the Burma Army and Restoration Council of Shan State in Kyaukme Township, northern Shan State, and are in need of assistance, locals said.

Clashes have been occurring near Pon Wow, Hae Kwe and Hkant Hkae village tracts since early October, causing villagers to seek refuge in monasteries.

A local man working with the Nam Khong social volunteer team, which is helping the internally displaced persons (IDPs), said that they are staying in four locations.

“There are nearly 400 IDPs in Pon Wow, more than 100 IDPs in Ner Sawng and nearly 600 IDPs in Tawng Htip and Nam Hin villages,” he said. “The IDPs from Hkant Hkae, Nam Hin and Tawng Htip village tracts are facing many difficulties because they could not bring any of their belongings with them when they fled. The sound of gunshots came from everywhere. Heavy weapons were being fired everywhere. So people had to flee their homes.”

Local civil society organizations have been the primary aid providers to IDPs in Pon Wow village, donating drinking water and food rations. However, they have been unable to reach villages like Tawng Htip and say that those in this community are particularly in need as a result.

“Now it’s rainy season, so they need both food and shelter, including blankets,” Nang Pan Ei Phyu, who is working with the Tai Youth Network, said. “Another problem for these IDPs is that they are not able to follow health guidelines imposed by the MoHS [Ministry of Health and Sports] because they do not have personal protective equipment or anything else for COVID-19 prevention.”

A local in Kyaukme town said that the conflict could create further insecurity for the IDPs, who rely on farming to survive.

“These people are farmers and grow vegetables, including corn and peas. Now these people are fleeing from their homes. If they can not work on their farms, it will hit their livelihoods hard,” the local told NMG.

In addition to the intensified fighting, locals say they are also afraid of encountering landmines and other unexploded bombs on their farms, making it difficult for them to tend to their land.