Hundreds Displaced in Kyaukme Require Emergency Aid

By Network Media Group
Thursday, December 31, 2020

More than 700 civilians from seven villages displaced by ethnic armed groups in northern Shan State urgently need warm blankets and clothing.

Fighting between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS/SSA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Front (TNLA), which resumed on Christmas Day in Kyaukme Township, drove the civilians from their homes.

A villager affected by the conflict told NMG that she had to flee when heavy weaponry was fired by both sides near her village of Kawng Hkar. Clashes were also reported between Pan Makhan and Pan Lawt villages.

Mai Samin Shein, from Ou Tamao civil society organization (CSO), expected more people to arrive yesterday, December 30. The CSO helped villagers reach safety in the town of Kyaukme.

Locals are helping the internally displaced persons (IDPs), but that is not enough.

When they fled they couldn’t bring anything with them, Mai Samin Shein explained, and need warm clothing and blankets, as well as additional shelters.

Mostly Ta’ang women and children are taking shelter at two monasteries and a school in Kyaukme. The men stayed behind in their villages to watch over the families’ belongings.

Maj Mai Aik Kyaw, in charge of TNLA’s information department, told NMG that civilians fled after RCSS soldiers built bunkers around Mang Sap, Pan Lawt, Pan Makhan, Kong Tha, Kawng Hkar, Hkon Nguen and Loi Ann villages. “Villagers told us they were being threatened.”

TNLA troops fought with up to three RCSS military columns on December 25-27, after the Shan troops entered the Ta’ang controlled area, Maj Mai Aik Kyaw explained.

Both sides agreed to meet for negotiations to end hostilities, but this did not happen and fighting resumed in Namtu and Kyaukme townships.

RCSS spokesperson Lt-Col Oum Khur said they don’t have a choice. “We have to defend ourselves because they often attack and usually ambush us. Whether or not the fight ends is up to TNLA.”

RCSS began fighting TNLA after signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015, while the government has not allowed TNLA to sign the peace deal.

Recently, the Ta’ang EAO, as well as other Northern Alliance member groups – Kachin Independence Organization/Army, Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army – have been discussing resuming negotiations on signing a bilateral ceasefire agreement.