Thousands of villagers in Loilem District have been displaced for over a month by clashes between the Shan State Progress Party and the Restoration Council of Shan State.
“They have taken refuge in Buddhist monasteries and are in need of rice, vegetables and other staple foods,” said a man helping them on condition of anonymity. He said only residents from Laikha township in southern Shan State have helped them since the fighting began on 11 April and that this was not enough.
They have fled from Hehseng, Wanhti, Pansang, Wansang, Wankyel, Nerpwe and Nawng Kaw village tracts. Some of them are staying in Haw Kham, Kyaung Kham, Wahso and Salaikhong Buddhist monasteries in Laikha, while others are staying with their relatives in the town.
Now that it is time to plant their crops, the displaced villagers are eager to return to their farms.
“If we cannot start working on our farm (soon), our planting will be delayed. If we can not go to our farm this year, what will we eat next year? The fighting is really impacting our lives and we have suffered a lot,” a woman said asking to remain anonymous.
One of the problems is that the two armed Shan groups are still fighting.
“We hear sound of gun fire almost everyday in Laikha Township,” the volunteer explained.
When asked how many people have been displaced by the current fighting, he said its impossible to say as many people have fled to different areas. Some youths affected by the clashes have decided to cross the border into Thailand to seek work.
The conflict has caused 13 Shan language schools to close, affecting at least 360 students.