Military Blocks On Aid Create Hardships For Shan State IDPs

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern Shan State’s Kyaukme Township are facing difficulties after Burma Army troops blocked aid deliveries from area volunteer groups.

The Kyaukme-based Ohm Ta Mao volunteer organization said that government soldiers refused to allow them access to the communities in Kyauktaw and Khur Kwe villages in the Mong Ngaw area. On November 25, they were forced to turn back halfway.

“Nobody has come to help the IDPs in Khur Kwe and Kyauktaw. They told us that they need emergency food rations,” a member of Ohm Ta Mao told NMG. “We tried to go and provide assistance… we were blocked by soldiers. They told us that there were clashes in the area but we didn’t hear any sounds of guns shooting.”

The volunteer said that their group of 10 people and the vehicles that they were traveling in were checked by around 50 Burma Army soldiers. The troops reportedly searched all of the bags and supplies they were carrying.

In the past, the volunteer noted, they were allowed to continue on their way to make their delivery.

“They told us that there were landmines. They told us that they allowed us to go there, but that if something happened to us, they wouldn’t take any responsibility. So we had to return,” he said.

Saw Hlaing, the headman of Namhsan Township’s Kyauk Phyulay village said that IDPs who fled the communities of Ah Byaung and Kaiktai in Kyaukme had come to his area seeking refuge.

“Villagers from Ah Byaung arrived at our village on November 17 and Kaiktai villagers arrived on November 18. There are total of 700 people. We still have food for five more days. But they need foodstuffs,” Saw Hlaing told NMG.

While everyone in Kaiktai has fled except for Buddhist monks, some 200 people remain in Ah Byaung.

Mai Aik Aung, who is an IDP from Ah Byaung, said that he is worried about his family members who have stayed in the community amid high military tension between the Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

“I arrived in Kyauk Phyulay village on November 17. My parents are still in our village. I am so worried about them,” he told NMG. “Everybody wants to go home. Even though situation is silent [and fighting has paused], I feel it’s not safe for us. So I have yet to go home, even though I want to go.”

In addition to the 700 IDPs in Namhsan’s Kyauk Phyulay village, 63 people from Taw Hpae village have sought refuge in Kyauktaw, 100 people from Ner Lway are in Mang Hkok, 152 from Ohn Oui are in Pang Ning, and 72 people from Khur Kwe are in Khung Kaw, all in Kyaukme Township.

In this most recent round of fighting, the Burma Army and the TNLA have had multiple clashes in northern Shan State since November 11. With military tension remaining high, IDPs are still afraid to return to their homes.