IDPs In Northern Rakhine State Have Run Out Of Food

By Network Media Group
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Civilians displaced by the conflict between the Burma Army and Arakan Army (AA) have run out of food and are finding it difficult to survive in Burma’s war-torn northern Rakhine State.

Zaw Zaw Tun, secretary of the Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC), says the situation for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps in Myaypon, Rathataung, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw and Ann townships is very bad. “IDPs in Kaigyi, Yayshin, Yetchaung and Sanyin in Myaypon Township are really struggling for food,” he says.

IDPs in Pyaw Chaung Gyi in Rathaytaung Township, Hpar Kywe-wa and Thinpontan in Ponnagyun Township and Ywar Mapyin and Nyaung Chaung in Kyauktaw Township also face food insecurity.

Zaw Zaw Tun says villagers living in a camp in Ward-4 in downtown Buthitaung aren’t receiving assistance from the government or international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). Because they’re staying in the town they aren’t recognized as IDPs, he explains.

In Ann Township, the Burma Army has sealed land and water routes to 42 villages, preventing food deliveries from reaching more than 12,000 villagers.

Khin Maung Latt, a parliamentarian for Ponnagyun Township, told NMG that IDPs forced to flee fighting with only their clothes on their back depend on aid but the government is providing very little support. He says the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) haven’t reached many IDP camps or villages sequestered by the conflict. “It’s really hard to get to the Hper Kywe. The only way to reach it is by water. The army has blocked the road and nobody dares to travel there. Villagers living in this area have run out of food.”

A Myaypon resident told NMG that it’s not only IDPs who need food but also civilians that haven’t left their villages.

Zaw Zaw Tun says INGOs have not visited Myaypon since the second week of March. “The weather is bad and, at the same time, clashes have continued in the area. During the COVID-19 pandemic, support from INGOs has been delayed and IDPs have not received food assistance in time.”

Khin Maung Latt says the government is responsible for “solving this problem.”

“Both Burma Army and AA have troops deployed at Chaung-wa in Ponnagyun making it difficult to reach the area. But I think the government can still send food rations to IDPs if they try because they were able to deliver food to Paletwa,” he says.

Without food or security many children won’t be able to attend classes when school starts again next month, according to REC. In a report released on June 8, REC found that fighting between the Burma Army and AA displaced 156,456 people in Rakhine State.