Without Humanitarian Aid, Rakhine State IDPs Rely on Villagers to Share Food

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Nearly 2,000 recently displaced persons are in need of emergency aid in Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township, according to local sources.

The internally displaced persons (IDPs) fled clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army (AA) on October 13, but fighting has been intensifying since October 1.

“There are intensifying clashes in the Kyauktan area,” a local man told NMG on the condition of anonymity. “People from Sahpo Kyun, Htee Swel, Kanpyin, Pyinwon, Aungsi Kon, and Aung Kyaung Tawng villages fled and sought refuge in Zaytipyin village.”

He explained that clashes occurred near Aung Thasi village from October 4-6, then resumed on October 13, and that Burmese military boats and jets, along with Rathedaung-based battalions, attacked the AA.

“The IDP population is much bigger than the population of local villagers in Zatipyin village,” the local man, who is helping the IDPs, said. “People sought refuge in Zatipyin because they could not go anywhere else, because the navy has blocked the waterway. Nearly 2,000 new IDPs have arrived in Zaytipyin village. There were nearly 2,000 IDPs already living in IDP camps in Zaytipyin.”

He added that the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Red Cross had provided assistance to the previous group of IDPs in the village, but that the most recently displaced IDPs were in need of emergency aid.

“The new IDPs are struggling for food and shelter. Villagers can not provide aid to these IDPs—they are just sharing their food with the IDPs,” the local man told NMG.

Zaw Zaw Tun, the secretary of the Rakhine Ethnic Congress, said that civilian safety in Rathedaung is deteriorating.

“People are now hopeless. AA troops are present there. The Burma Army is now attacking the AA in the area by using the air force, navy and army, so all villagers have fled the clashes,” Zaw Zaw Tun told NMG. “It is difficult for us to gather the exact number of IDPs. People are suffering a lot because of these clashes. People are living in fear there. The people of the Kyauktan region are helpless.”

Another local man said that he had witnessed Burma Army airstrikes against the AA in the area on three different days: October 3, 5 and 13, in addition to navy attacks.

Locals have reported artillery shells hitting their villages, destroying houses, and injuring and killing civilians. Exact numbers were not known at the time of reporting.

NMG tried to call both the Tatmadaw’s Information Team and the AA for comments but the calls were not answered.