Kyaukme children fear going back to school in war zone

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Some 300 students do not want to go back to school in their village of Tawsarng, Kyaukme Township, as they fear being caught in the crossfire of fighting between ethnic factions in the area, according to a local MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD).

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Sai Tun Ngan, the SNLD representative for Kyaukme Township Constituency No 2, said that even though the school in Tawsarng village has re-opened, the children do not want to return.

“Nobody can predict the situation here,” he said. “The kids are worried that they will have to evacuate the school again and run away.”

These children are among hundreds of families forced to flee their homes as hostilities intensified recently between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) after clashes broke out in November last year. Some became displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in camps, while others have fled the country to seek livelihoods elsewhere.

Shan Herald reported on September 13 that representatives of both ethnic militias had met in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, to try to thrash out a solution.

However, clashes between the two armed groups are ongoing, according to the TNLA’s News and Information Department on September 25. The most recent bout of hostilities, it reported, has been taking place in the village of Manmai in Mantong Township.

According to Mai Aik Tun, a teacher from an IDP shelter in Metha Oo Way, many children are developing mental health problems due to the trauma of war.

“Actually, they do want to go back to their village and study at school,” he said. “But they are afraid because they do not feel protected.”

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)

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