Hundreds Flee Burma Army, TNLA Clashes in Namhsan

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Nearly 700 local villagers have fled their homes in recent days as the Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) continue to clash in northern Shan State’s Namhsan Township despite unilateral ceasefires declared by both sides in the conflict.

According to Shan State MP U Thein Zaw, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are flooding into the town of Namhsan to escape the latest outbreak of violence.

“There are 369 displaced villagers staying at Zayanggyi Monastery in Namhsan, and there are more at Phayagyi Monastery. A total of nearly 700 villagers have already arrived in Namhsan,” Thein Zaw told NMG.

The sudden influx has created an urgent need for food and other basic necessities, he added.

“They need food, medicine, clothing and shelter. They couldn’t bring their blanket or clothes, so the IDPs have to sleep on the ground in the monastery. But what they need most of all is food,” he said.

So far, he said, local people and civil society organizations have provided some food and other aid to the IDPs at Zayanggyi Monastery, but those staying at Phayagyi Monastery have yet to receive any assistance.

“There are many local social volunteer teams, businessmen and donors in the downtown area. They have provided rice, cooking oil, and salt to the IDPs. Local volunteers are cooking for the IDPs at Zayanggyi Monastery,” said Thein Zaw.

“But the situation of the IDPs at Phayagyi Monastery is different. Nobody has come to donate food, but I’ve heard that local villagers are cooking for them. It’s really difficult to travel in the area at the moment. That’s why nobody has come to donate anything for them.”

There have been intense clashes between the Burma Army and the TNLA on Tawng Yo Pagoda Hill in Namhsan Township since Friday. On Saturday, an artillery shell fell on the village of Pang Tu Oo. One man was seriously injured and reportedly had to have a leg amputated at the local clinic and later died.

On September 1, the Burma Army extended a unilateral ceasefire that has been in place since late last year for an additional three weeks. The following week, the TNLA and two of its partners in the Northern Alliance declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire.

Despite the ceasefire announcements and peace talks with the government, however, the situation on the ground has shown no signs of improving.