Food and Fuel Costs Soar in Karenni State Amid Conflict

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By Kantarawaddy Times

Many are struggling to survive during food and fuel shortages caused by the conflict between civilian resistance groups and Tatmadaw in Karenni (aka Kayah) State.

Essential items are in short supply for residents of Hpruso, Bawlakhe, Hpasaung, Maese townships. People living in the capital also feel the squeeze. Food prices are rising in Loikaw because there is not produce delivered to the town as a result of fighting.

“Vehicles are not travelling during the conflict in Kayah State,” a man from Mawchi told Kantarawaddy Times. Although locals might have some food, he explained that migrant workers don’t have any because they can’t buy it. Rice, cooking oil, salt and fuel are all in short supply.

A bag of rice has gone from 40,000 kyat ($24) to 100,000 kyat ($70) per bag. A litre of petroleum now costs 5,000 kyat ($3). A phone card that used to cost 1,000 kyat (61 cents) now costs 1,500 kyat (91 cents). Potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, and instant noodle are unavailable.

Making matters worse two bridges along the Union Highway have been destroyed on May 30, affecting travel between Loikaw, Demawso, Hpruso, Bawlakhe, Hpasaung and Maese.

“The situation was stable in Hpasaung Township after the military coup even though there were protests against the military junta…Now we are facing food and fuel shortages…we have no option but to face it together,” a man from Hpasaung Township said. Even rescue vehicles in the township have no fuel to operate.

In the town of Hpruso, located one hour south of Loikaw, residents haven’t had power for over 10 days but there are not any candles for sale at the shops. “There are three markets in Hpruso but none of the shops are open because they have nothing to sell. There has been a power blackout for 13 days. At night, everyone sits in the dark…like we are living in the dark ages.” a resident said.

Since the conflict started, bus services have been suspended. Last week, Burma Army blocked all the entry points to the state. Locals want the military to open the roads to allow goods to be brought into the state.

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