Thousands of civilians have been displaced by clashes between ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) during the escalating conflict in Hsipaw Township, northern Shan State.
Fighting between Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and combined forces, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Shan State Progress Party, broke out near Wan Seing village-tract in Namlan sub-township.
“They are still fighting each other. We can hear the sounds of gunfire and it is very scary because it is getting louder. Yesterday, they fought near Yay Phyu village,” a man from Namlan told SHAN.
The Buddhist monastery in Wan Seing village is full after 2,510 villagers sought refuge from the fighting there. With no more floor space left, new arrivals are sleeping in the back of a large truck. A volunteer told SHAN because many fled with only the clothes on their backs, they need emergency support. They require food, medicine, shampoo and feminine care products, she explained. Residents from Kawng Kham, Pan Sem, Kon Nyu, Wantap, Sankar, Ho Nam, Kon Yon and Kon Moung villages have fled to the monastery.
Because it’s the start of the cultivation season, villagers are anxious to return to their farms to begin planting rice. At the same time, they are afraid to return home. “People need to pay their taxes. If they can’t work on their farms, how will they pay their bills?” asked a man from Namlan.
“People have endured too much suffering. They (EAOs) should consider the people who have to flee every time there are clashes,” said Muam Muam Pao, who is helping villagers affected by the conflict in Hsipaw Township. She wants the violence to stop.
“We just want to be able to work on our farm in peace,” a villager told SHAN. “We don’t want them to fight each other…If it stops, we can return to our village.”
Lt-Col Kham San, the RCSS spokesperson, confirmed that many civilians were displaced by the fighting with the Northern Alliance last week.
The conflict in Hsipaw and Namtu townships has been happening for over two months. Currently, there are more than 3,000 villagers uprooted by clashes between EAOs in Hsipaw Township.