Villagers who have fled fighting between rival ethnic Shan ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) are afraid of contracting COVID-19 because infection rates are high in Mong Kung Township southern Shan State, where they have sought refuge.
“They are concerned because COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Ton Law village tract. We have told them not to leave the monastery and to wash their hands often,” said a man helping the displaced villagers at Pang Lant Buddhist monastery.
Ninety-one people were displaced by fighting between Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) near Kong Kaw village, Hsipaw Township, on August 23.
The villagers fled with the clothes on their backs, said another volunteer, and need food and warm blankets. They are from Kong Kaw, Wan Kyaung, Nawng Pein and Lon Lon, all in Namlan sub township, northern Shan State.
More than 500 people have fled to a Buddhist monastery in Kong Kaw.
Fighting between Shan EAOs in Hsipaw Township has prevented villagers from working in their farms since early June.
Clashes between RCSS and the combined forces of SSPP and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) has also displaced 500 people in Kyaukme Township. Villagers sought safety in Mong Ngor, where many infections were also reported.
“In the last 24-hours, five people contracted COVID-19 in Mong Ngor, which is why the IDPs (internally displaced persons) are so worried about it,” said a woman from the town in northern Shan State.
A male volunteer informed SHAN that there are 7 IDP camps in the town and 40 villagers arrived on August 22. “Some of them are sick. They need food and medicine.” He said at least 21 cases have been confirmed in Mong Ngor while Kyaukme town has 700 cases.