By Kantarawaddy Times
In Karenni State, fighting between the armed forces and the military is occurring daily, causing more and more villagers to flee and exacerbating the food crisis in the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps.
At the same time, the conflict has increased the number of COVID-19 cases as villagers are forced into squalid and overcrowded camps in villages or in the jungle, where there’s hardly anything to eat and almost no medicine to treat the sick. Since many of them are elderly, they’re at greater risk if they contract the virus.
”The number of IDPs in eastern Demawso Township is increasing daily, as are the number of cases of COVID-19,” a male volunteer told Kantarawaddy Times.
Despite their predicament, which is getting worse by the day, there’s very little aid to save them. The few relief supplies that do arrive at IDP camps are brought at great peril to the brave volunteers who could be shot at by Burma Army (BA) for bringing food and medicine for the displaced villagers.
”We’re risking our lives to bring the donations” to the IDP camps, the source said. Besides food, medicine and plastic sheets to protect them from the rain, they also need doctors and nurses to care for the sick.
COVID-19 has been spreading in the camps in Loikaw, Demawso and Hpruso townships, where most of the residents are senior citizens, women and children.
The spokesperson of Karenni Nationalities Defence Force, a civil resistance group fighting BA alongside the Karenni Army said that over 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes due to the attacks by the military since the coup about 8 months ago.
Because of the outbreak in the camps, the ”IDPs need proper medical care”. They ”bravely faced many difficulties and challenges” the spokesperson said. ”If we cannot overcome these obstacles, we’ll never escape the yoke of the junta.”
Locals informed Kantarawaddy Times that BA opens fire on civilian vehicles without asking questions during heightened security measures on the roads in Loikaw Township. When they aren’t shooting at villagers, the soldiers stop them at roadblocks during impromptu interrogations. Traffic in the township has been brought to a standstill because everyone is afraid to travel.