Nearly 1,000 New IDPs in Kyauktaw in Need of Aid After Fleeing Burma Army Violence

Monday, September 21, 2020

Nearly 1,000 newly displaced people are in need of emergency assistance in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township, according to those working with the IDPs (internally displaced persons).

The 943 people are from six villages—Myauk Taung, Thasi, Shwe Pyi Thit, Shwe Pyi Houng, Ahlae Kyun and Kyauk Gusu—and have sought refuge from recent Burma Army abuses on the grounds of the Mahamuni pagoda in Kyauktaw.

“They do not have enough space on the pagoda grounds. They need shelter. They need food ration. They need COVID-19 protective equipment. They have been here for two weeks,” a local man who is helping IDPs told NMG.

Buddhist Abbot Pannyasiri said that the IDPs were staying at the Dhamma hall and monastery at Mahamuni, but that this would likely have to change in order for the space to be used for religious purposes in the coming months.

“We want to use the Dhamma hall for Dhamma talks during the Buddhist lent months, so we are preparing to build shelters for [the IDPs]. We need donors for this; we are asking for donations. I think we will try to build five to ten shelters for them in few days,” the abbot told NMG.

The villagers fled their homes on August 31 when Burmese military columns entered their villages and opened fire on them. The soldiers then allegedly arrested, interrogated and beat villagers.

“Nobody dares to return home at the moment. They are so scared. They are afraid of facing this kind of situation again,” Abbot Pannyasiri told NMG. “They have sought refuge at Mahamuni pagoda, so we have formed a committee to help these IDPs. They want to return home when the situation is stable.”

Burma’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement provided more than 100 rice bags for the IDPs, and private donors and civil society also donated rice and other basic foodstuffs, along with soap and face masks. However, the support remains insufficient, Pannyasiri noted.

“Through the township authorities, we informed the state government about what we have done for the IDPs. We want state government officials to observe the situation on the ground here. They still have not visited,” the abbot explained. “We want both the Union and state governments to provide assistance to these IDPs in line with the law. We can only provide temporary assistance.”

The villagers noted that there had not been clashes in their villages between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army, and that the violence against them had been by government troops.