The Burma Army sent more than 500 soldiers into the area near the Loi Kaw Wan internally displaced persons (IDP) camp and the Restoration Council of Shan State’s (RCSS) military camp on the Thai-Burma border over the weekend.
According to Shan Refugee Committee, the soldiers were from LIB 224, LIB 571 and IB 221, based in Kengtung town, in eastern Shan State, and were sent into the RCSS’s Kengtung Military Region 1 on June 20. They then withdrew on June 21.
Nang Nguen Hom, who is working with the Shan Refugee Committee, said that Shan IDPs in the area are worried that clashes will occur near their camp.
“The refugees were really shocked because many soldiers entered the area. They are afraid of battles occurring in the area,” she said. “They used to look for edible plants in the jungle where government’s troops were deployed,” she explained.
Loong Ba, who lives in Loi Kaw Wan IDP camp, said that they remain worried that the Tatmadaw troops are still deployed in the mountain range.
“The Burma Army’s troops already withdrew from the area, but we are still afraid to go there to search for vegetables. We are still worried. We are so scared of clashes,” he told SHAN.
The RCSS is a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government and military. However, since signing the NCA, IDPs in Loi Kaw Wan say that the government forces frequently have deployed troops near their camp.
“The government’s soldiers used to come into this area. Four soldiers came here to get information in recent weeks. This time, many troops came into this area. I don’t know the reason why they came here,” a Shan IDP said.
Lt-Col Sai Kham San, an RCSS spokesperson said that he had heard about the troop movements but did not have further information at the time of reporting.
According to Thai-Burma border-based Shan Refugee Committee, there are more than 6,000 Shan refugees living in IDP camps in the border area, and they continue to struggle to meet their basic needs.