Farmers who were forced to flee fighting in northern Shan State in the middle of the harvest period are eager to return to their farms but still cannot despite a lull in fighting between opposing ethnic armed organizations (EAOs).
Ko Chit Mwe, from the Metta Shin organization in Namtu Township, told SHAN even though there’s been no recent clashes reported in the township none of the armed groups have withdrawn.
“We saw soldiers walking down the road yesterday. And the Burma Army has military columns deployed between Man San and Namtu. As a result, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are afraid to return to their villages because if fighting starts again, they’ll have to flee again.”
About 212 IDPs, who fled clashes between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and the Northern Alliance, remain at the Man San Buddhist monastery.
Lt-Col Oum Khur, RCSS spokesperson, told SHAN none of the groups are sending reinforcements to the contested area.
But a resident helping the IDPs, said the situation remains tense as armed groups stand off. Tatmadaw has troops in between Hsipaw and Man San, the man said, while the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) is between Lashio and Man San.
On December 5, RCSS clashed with TNLA near the villages of Ner Kyel and Kon Kyaung, causing hundreds to flee. After that, the Burma Army sent its military columns to the area, which is preventing the IDPs from returning.
Between December 7 to 10, RCSS clashed with TNLA three times in Namtu Township.
Loung Sai, a displaced farmer staying at the Buddhist monastery, told SHAN that he’s concerned about when he can return to harvest his corn and rice.
At least four villagers were wounded during the December fighting.