Rakhine Clashes Send Thousands Fleeing

Recent fighting between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army has dramatically increased the number of IDPs in northern Rakhine State.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

More than 3,000 people have fled from clashes between the Burma Army and the insurgent Arakan Army (AA) in northern Rakhine State’s Minbya Township since the start of the month, according to local sources.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) active in the area say the situation has created a drastic need for emergency assistance, including food, medicine and clothing.

“CSOs and the Rakhine community from Myaebon Township have provided food and clothing, as well as other necessities, including mosquito nets and blankets, but a lot more is needed. They have been staying here for nearly 10 days,” said Thein Tun, a worker with the Kyan Yek Garuna Foundation in Minbya.

According to local residents, there are eight camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Minbya Township. Nearly 2,500 of the newly displaced villagers are staying in these camps, while the rest are staying with relatives or in other safe villages.

“There are more than 1,100 IDPs taking refuge in Thaykan, nearly 500 in Anntha, over 400 in U Soe Tint ward, over 200 in Naramthit, over 80 in Thanshinthit, over 100 at Yadanarmon monastery, and over 100 at Pannya Rama monastery. Some IDPs are staying in their relatives’ homes. I think there is now a total of more than 4,000 IDPs in Minbya,” Thein Tun told NMG.

Hla Thein Aung, a member of the Rakhine State parliament, also highlighted the need for additional material support for the IDPs.

“There is an especially great need for food assistance. After that, the most urgent need is for medical care. They also need toilets, clothing, and mosquito nets,” he said, adding that mosquito nets and blankets are essential during the rainy season.

Local people said that clashes between the Burma Army and the AA have intensified in recent days, with an increasing number of artillery shells landing near villages.

At least ten villages in Minbya Township—Kalarma Taung, Dong-thar, Hpontha Chaung, Thalu Chaung, Wah Taung, Myin Tan, Taung Pokkay, Let-hkop, Zonetha, and Seiktara—now stand deserted amid intense fighting between the two sides.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of civilians being trapped in Hpontha Chaung, Seiktara, Ngan Tat, Taung Pokkay, and Let-hkop.

Fighting has also been intense in other parts of Rakhine State and in Paletwa in southern Chin State, according to AA spokesperson Khine Thukha.

“There were multiple clashes in many townships in Rakhine State between August 1 and August 5. The number of clashes has increased, and I think there have been many casualties on their side. I think more than 100 Burmese soldiers have been killed in battle,” Khine Thukha said.

NMG was unable to independently confirm these casualty figures. The Burma Army has yet to release any information about the intensification of its offensive against the AA.