Local volunteers have been unable to deliver food aid to more than 700 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in a monastery in northern Shan State’s Kyaukme Township due to continued fighting between the Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS).
The clashes have been ongoing since October 2 and continue to occur in the area around Tawng Htig monastery, where the the majority of displaced persons are staying.
“We tried to go to Tawng Htig village with 20 vehicles to provide assistance to the IDPs. The Burma Army and the RCSS were fighting on the road to Tawng Htig, so we could not reach the village,” Kyaukme local Nang Kyein told SHAN on Wednesday. “They were fighting until midnight yesterday. They are still fighting in this morning. If clashes continue in the area, food will run out soon.”
In addition to the 700 IDPs in Tawng Htig, there are also more than 500 IDPs in Pong Woe village.
According to Sai Tun Lin, an electoral candidate from the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party running to represent Kyaukme, the IDPs in Pong Woe currently have food supplies.
“Food is not a problem for IDPs in Pong Woe,” he told SHAN. “We need to send food rations to Tawng Htig village.”
IDPs in Pong Woe said that the Tatmadaw used helicopters to send troop reinforcements and supplies to outposts in the mountains around Pong Woe at around 1:00 p.m. on October 7.
“Two helicopters brought more than 100 soldiers. There was a clash in the area at around mid-day,” a displaced woman staying in the village monastery told SHAN. “We were so afraid and we are staying in Pong Woe monastery. We are worried about whether shells will hit the monastery.”
RCSS spokesperson Lt-Col Oum Khur has told SHAN in previous interviews that the likelihood of clashes continuing will depend on whether the Burma Army instigates battles.
IDPs have voiced concern that the current period of armed conflict will interfere with the upcoming national election, scheduled for November 8.
In 2015, voting in Burma’s general election could not be held in Mong Hsu, Kesi, and Mong Nawng townships in Shan State because of fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Shan State Progress Party.