Some internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mong Kung Township, southern Shan State, have returned to their homes after being forced to flee by fighting between the Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) in late February.
Clashes between Shan and government forces began on February 27 in the Loi Tung mountain range in Ham Ngai village tract and lasted for days. Hundreds of people subsequently sought refuge in monasteries.
“They are going to return home today. The strategic commander called me last night and told me that the IDPs could return home,” Mung Kung state parliamentarian Sai Long told SHAN on Friday.
Villagers from the villages of Ho Hpai and Koong Nyawng Hpa Hsa reported that their homes and shops had been ransacked and looted by Burma Army soldiers while they were staying in nearby monasteries.
“I told them to report their losses and the damage in their village,” Sai Lon said.
Residents of the villages who went back on March 2 first witnessed the looting—when they tried to return on March 4 with MP Sai Lon, they were blocked by government troops from reaching their community.
Some of the IDPs remain apprehensive about going back, with military tension still high and Burma Army soldiers on patrol in the area. Following a meeting between the Burma Army and the RCSS on March 1 to address the fighting, there were 18 more clashes that followed.
“We won’t currently return to our village. Villagers from Sam Pao and Ho Nawng already returned. We are still preparing to return home,” Koong Nyawng Hpa Hsa villager Sai Mu told SHAN.
According to local estimates, there are around 500 IDPs in Ham Ngai village tract in Mung Kung Township.