Hundreds of villagers affected by the conflict between competing Shan armed groups in Mongkung Township sleep in the back of a flatbed lorry in the middle of winter, surviving on what they can earn as day labourers and through donations.
Persistent fighting between the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) in southern Shan State has prevented them from going home since mid-September.
A woman told SHAN that she is afraid to go home as long as the armed groups are in her area. ”I do not know when the clashes will start again,” she said, explaining they’re earning some money to buy food by helping other farmers harvest their rice fields.
Now that temperatures have dropped a male volunteer helping them said they are trying to find warm clothes for the 300 people displaced by the clashes. Another volunteer who works with the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) committee in the township advises anyone who wants to help to contact the committee directly to ensure the IDPs receive their donation.
Travellers can expect long delays after the Burma Army (BA) and the SSPP each set up their own checkpoints on the main road in Mongkung Township. No one is allowed to pass through the BA checkpoint near Pay Kay Tu, between Loilam and Lashio, after 6pm.
The SSPP checkpoint was set up between Pan Kay Tu and Tong Lor a month ago. A driver told SHAN, that the ethnic armed group does not charge money but mainly checks people’s phones. But “they check everyone and it delays the journey” he said.
SHAN was unable to reach the SSPP spokesperson for comment on the checkpoint.
Thousands have been displaced by the conflict between the SSPP and RCSS in Shan State, which has intensified since the military overthrew the government 10 months ago.