Armed groups in northern Shan state are standing off, with tensions high, although no new clashes have been reported.
“It’s been silent for the last two days. But the Burma Army hasn’t pulled back its troops from the conflict zone…I’m not sure if clashes will erupt again,” Lt-Col Oum Khur, the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) spokesperson, told SHAN. The Burma Army has been sending reinforcements to Pong Woe and Tawng Htig villages in Kyaukme Township, he said, and this might cause more fighting.
“In some places there aren’t military standoffs happening but there are many Burmese soldiers and IDPs (internally displaced persons) can’t return home,” Lt-Col Oum Khur told SHAN.
The Burma Army suffered many casualties since fighting started in Kyaukme Township in early October, he explained. “They picked up their wounded soldiers with helicopters. But I don’t have exact numbers.”
There were at least 20 clashes in October, resulting in the displacement of 3,000 villagers in Kyaukme Township. Seventy percent of the IDPs are women and children.
With the election less than a month away, parliamentarians in the township want the government to end hostilities and provide assistance to IDPs, including managing their safe return home.
Sai Tun Win, a parliamentarian for Kyaukme Township constituency-1, told SHAN that he wants the government to “consider the welfare of the IDPs” and “stop the war in Kyaukme.” The government needs to deliver food rations to the displaced villagers, he said.
“Nang Moong Kein, director of Shan Women’s Action Network, told SHAN that the government has not provided any assistance to IDPs. “Our people are suffering a lot because of the fighting. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is spreading across the country.” IDPs need help returning to their villages, she said, and they need personal protective equipment.
So far, its been only political parties, community-based organizations and individual donors that have provided IDPs with assistance.