Food Crisis Looms in Bawlakhe as Armed Groups Prevent Rice Deliveries

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By Kantarawaddy Times

Bawlakhe is running out of rice after armed groups clashing in the area refused deliveries to the town in Karenni State. Residents are now subsisting on gruel made with whatever rice is left mixed with corn.

“We have to eat maize instead of rice. We are really facing difficulties,” a local man told Kantarawaddy Times while requesting anonymity for fear of speaking out. “There are many groups active in this area. If one group allows people to bring rice, there will be another group that doesn’t allow it. I do not know what to say about it.”

Both the Karenni resistance and the troops from the State Administration Council (SAC) have restricted access to the township that shares the same name as the town.

“People have to eat rice soup. Some have tried to buy rice, but they cannot find it, and this has made them angry,” a local woman said, who also declined to provide her name out of fear. She said many of the residents are sharing whatever rice they have left with each other.

“Lower-class people are unable to buy rice in Bawlakhe where a can costs 1,000 Kyat (50 cents),” the woman said, explaining that high transportation costs are a huge factor. A 32 kg bag of rice is selling for 300,000 kyat.

Frustrated with its unavailability or high cost, some townsfolk have set out on foot to buy rice in the capital town Loikaw despite the dangers they face.

The man said he wants the armed groups to allow them to bring rice to the town.

Only a handful of families are still living in the town after much of the population fled during previous SAC artillery shelling.

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