Fighting between Northern Alliance members and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) forced many villages to seek refuge in Kyaukme town in northern Shan State.
“The fighting was close to our village and we were afraid it would come even closer, so we fled,” said a 60-year-old woman from Kawng Hong, who asked that her name not be mentioned. She and her family are now safe in Kyaukme.
On Wednesday, 12 January, combined forces of the Shan State Progress Party and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army clashed with the RCSS near Chaung Chauk, Pein Mana and Nawng Arng in the morning. In the evening, fighting resumed near Khe Moon, Bu Hka and Pang Hok.
Another woman, who requested anonymity, told SHAN that shells landed in Loi Hser, about 7 miles from Kyaukme, after which all villagers fled, as well as from nearby Nawng Lian, Kawng Hong and Ner Pyein.
“We have not harvested our sesame. We have to keep running from place to place,” a woman who fled Ner Pyein told SHAN.
On 8 January, more than 300 people were displaced as the armed groups fought in Hsipaw Township on the border with Kyaukme Township. Most of the villagers are staying at a Buddhist monastery in Baw Kyo.
The Shan community and religious groups have tried to stop the groups from fighting each other by calling for dialogue, but no one listens. Many people have been displaced by the conflict, which has intensified considerably in the last year since the military took over the democratic government and gaoled State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and many others.