Infant Dies of Exposure after Villagers Flee Fighting

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A five-month-old infant died in northern Shan State’s Lashio Township on Tuesday as cold temperatures take their toll on local villagers forced to flee clashes between the Burma Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the village of Lahu Loi Tawk initially fled to the Enai Monastery in Lashio Township on Monday, but returned to their homes the next day after fighting in the area stopped.

The villagers left the monastery because a shortage of blankets meant that some families were forced to do without. According to Lay Ner Khu, an IDP from Lahu Loi Tawk, the infant died as its family was making its way back to the village.

“They [the family] didn’t get enough blankets when they stayed at the monastery. Family members of the dead infant didn’t realize he had died until his brother tried to dress him,” Lay Ner Khu told NMG.

According to the headman of Lahu Loi Tawk, the IDPs fled again on Thursday after they heard the sound of gunfire in the surrounding area and are now sheltering at the Manghsu Monastery in Lashio Township.

“They first fled on December 16 after shells landed near the village. They returned on December 17 and fled again on December 19. They asked for help getting out again when they heard gunshots around the village, so we took them all to Manghsu Monastery in six vehicles,” village headman Kyar Tawt told NMG.

Nearly 600 people from the villages of Lahu Loi Tawk and Pan Hong have sought refuge at Manghsu Monastery, according to IDP Lay Ner Khu.

“We fled around 1pm yesterday because clashes broke out near our village. More than 600 people from over 100 families have arrived at the monastery,” said Lay Ner Khu, adding that there is still a severe shortage of basic supplies.

“We have many difficulties. It’s really cold here. There are many children and we need blankets, warm clothing and food. We can only provide two blankets to each family, so if a family has many children, they have a really hard time. We also need food because there are many children. This time, we couldn’t bring anything with us when we fled,” Lay Ner Khu told NMG.

Because of the clashes, Lahu Loi Tawk is now completely empty, except for five elderly residents who were unable to flee and the village headman, who stayed behind with them.
The TNLA reported that it clashed with the Burma Army for nearly one hour on Thursday near the 15-mile post on the Lashio-Namtu Road.

The ethnic armed group also clashed with Burma Army forces at three different locations on Wednesday—near Sinhkai, a village in Lashio Township, Oum Suam in Namhsan Township, and at Mangsan junction in Manton Township.