Shelling between ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) injured two civilians in Kyaukme Township, in northern Shan State, where fighting has intensified as EAOs continue to squabble over land and ignore pleas from their communities to end the violence that’s led to more hardship amid political instability caused by the coup and pandemic.
A 60-year-old man and his 18-year-old grandson from Hu Kwet village are the latest victims of the conflict, which began years ago but has intensified since the military overthrew the democratically elected government nine months ago.
Last Friday, 22 October, the allied Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) engaged in fighting with the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), with shells hitting the family’s village, a villager told SHAN.
”The grandson was seriously injured on his stomach and hands and his grandfather lost two fingers,” he said. Both are receiving medical treatment at a hospital in Mandalay.
Meanwhile, villagers who fled fighting between EAOs months ago are facing food insecurity, yet, hopes of returning home where they can grow their own food have dwindled as the fighting has edged closer to their camps.
”Yesterday we could hear gunshots. Today too we heard gunshots until noon,” said a villager living near an IDP camp on 21 October. The IDPs have almost nothing to eat, having arrived at the camp a long time ago.
SSPP and TNLA are fighting with the RCSS near Hu Sung, Hu Kwet and Pang Hong in Hu Song village tract, where 1,500 IDPs live.
There are only a handful of donors helping people in the camps, says Loung Liang Han, chair of the Shan Literature and Culture Association for Kyaukme Township. ”Some of the IDPs are crying. They want to go home, but they cannot because the fighting hasn’t stopped yet.
To make matters worse, for some villagers who’ve been uprooted by the conflict, it’s time to harvest their crops, and some would risk their lives to return to their farms because they fear they’ll soon starve otherwise.
Loung Liang Han said there are over 300 IDPs living in Mong Ting village tract, more than 300 in Mang Hka camp and Kyu Shaw Buddhist Monastery, and 220 in Mong Ngor camp. The others who fled the violence have gone to stay with their relatives in Kyaukme town.
Many innocent people have already been killed or injured during the conflict, which continues despite the community’s calls for peace talks.