Civilians are caught between a military standoff between warring ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in Kyaukme Township, northern Shan State.
According to a civil society organization (CSO), 793 villagers have been displaced by fighting that started between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) on Christmas Day.
Mai Ah Ban, from Ou Tamao CSO, told SHAN that while the armed groups face off, the civilians are sheltering at four internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps established in the town of Kyaukme. “We can frequently hear gunfire and villagers are still fleeing from the fighting.”
The IDPs, who are predominantly women and children, are short of food, blankets and warm clothing. “In northern Shan State during the Winter it gets really cold..It’d be great if someone can provide them with more blankets,” Mai Ah Ban said.
There’s concern about a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Ministry of Health and Sports announced social distancing restrictions for Burma. But in the overcrowded camps it’s impossible to follow them, an anonymous female source helping the villagers told SHAN.
CSOs say that EAOs shouldn’t be fighting during the pandemic, and hope the RCSS and TNLA can resolve its differences by engaging in dialogue. But there’s seems to be no end in sight for the conflict after EAOs dispatched reinforcements between the villages of Loi Ann Ting and Tawt San village.
Villagers from Tawt San were forced to flee fighting on January 1.
Since the fighting started in Kyaukme Township at the beginning of December, there’s been many civilian casualties.
SHAN repeatedly contacted the RCSS and TNLA for comment but couldn’t get reach either of their spokespersons.