Hundreds of IDPs in Hsipaw Face Food Shortages

‘The government cannot effectively solve this problem of armed conflict,’ says one Shan State MP.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

More than 300 internally displaced people (IDPs) have had insufficient food since fleeing their village in Namtu Township on Friday, following fatal clashes between two Shan armed groups.

The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) fought near Ner Lawt village, leading 330 people to flee to nearby Sel Khan village.

“They are staying in monastery. As of today, they cannot go back home,” a local told NMG on Tuesday. “Even though there are no clashes in their area, soldiers are still staying in their village. That is why they are afraid to go back home.”

Civil society group Volunteers Without Borders, locals, and parliamentarians have provided assistance to the IDPs, but food is still lacking.

“The major need is food rations. Even though many people have provided food, it’s not enough,” the local source said. “The weather is so cold. The road is still not good. It’s far from the town. They cannot return home.”

Three civilians, including fourth grade student, were killed and three were injured in Friday’s clashes. According to Ko Myo, who works with Volunteers Without Borders, the injured civilians have been hospitalized in Lashio, following a transfer from Hsipaw.

“My network’s members picked up these injured civilians and sent them to the hospital. I myself pick up an injured person in Mong Khur,” Ko Myo said, adding that the three people who were killed had already ben cremated in the village.

Both Shan armed groups have denied accusations that they started the fighting.

Locals are worried that the food shortages will continue if the IDPs cannot return to their farms to harvest food for the coming year.

State parliamentarian Nang San San Aye, who represents Hsipaw Constituency (1) for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), said that an all-inclusive meeting is needed in order to confront the escalating conflict.

“MPs alone cannot solve this problem. All stakeholders including Union level representatives must participate in solving it. Even though MPs discuss the clashes in ethnic areas in parliament meetings, clashes occur again and again,” she explained. “That’s why we went to help IDPs. It’s not so effective even though it’s reported in the parliament meeting. The government cannot effectively solve this problem of armed conflict,” Nang San San Aye added.

Her party, the SNLD, has called on the RCSS and SSPP to meet in order to seek a solution.

According to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), there have been 14 clashes this month between the RCSS/SSA, and TNLA-SSPP/SSA troops.