IDP Population Exceeds 3,500 in Kyaukme

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More than 3,500 people have been displaced by recent clashes between the Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) in Kyaukme Township in northern Shan State.

KM war refugees by KM Youth
KM war refugees by KM Youth

Sai Nay Aung, who is working with the Kanlint Letmyar Social Volunteer Team, said that villagers were still leaving their homes as of October 13, even though fighting had stopped between the government forces and the Shan army.

“There are no clashes in the area, but [Burmese] military columns are patrolling the area. Villagers are afraid of the soldiers. That’s why they continue to flee their homes. Now there are total of more than 3,500 IDPs [internally displaced persons] in Kyaukme,” Sai Nay Aung told SHAN.

This number includes IDPs from 10 villages: 648 from Tawng Htip, 170 from Ner Saung, 718 from Pon Wow, 397 from Kung Hin, 286 from Kawng Lang, 386 from Ho Nam, 95 from Nawng Kwam, 125 from Hae Kwee, 250 from Kawngmu Khan, and 430 from Oum Hip.

“It’s silent in our area. There are no clashes. Military columns are still in the area. We are afraid to return home. We are waiting to see what happens with the situation,” a local man displaced from Pong Wow village said.  

IDPs told SHAN that Burma Army troops remain inside villages, and RCSS soldiers are staying just outside, so they remain concerned that fighting will reignite.

The most recent clashes occurred between October 2 and 11, with some houses destroyed by artillery shells and villagers injured.

Representatives of local civil society organizations have said that donors have been unable to travel to Kyaukme to provide aid to the IDPs due to ongoing travel restrictions enforced as part of Burma’s COVID-19 prevention measures. There is currently a shortage of food and shelter for the displaced villagers.

Burma’s general election is scheduled for November 8, and IDPs have called on the Burma Army to retreat from their villages and cease hostilities so that electoral campaigns can take place and locals can vote.

The Union Election Commission canceled voting in Monghsu, Kesi and Mong Nawng townships in southern Shan State in 2015 because of intensifying clashes between the Burma Army and the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP).

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