IDPs in Karenni State face repeated displacement after Burma Army offensive

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By Kantarawaddy Times

People living in three IDP camps since 2021 were recently displaced again following the Burma Army’s offensive against Karenni resistance groups in Demawso Township. The Burma Army’s indiscriminate artillery fire, and armed clashes have been on-going since 22 January. Approximately 1,200 IDPs from three existing IDP camps fled the violence after offensive started.

“We do not have enough food now. We carried some food from the old camp, but this won’t last long as we are sharing with other IDPs. We do not know when we will need to flee again to a different place. We are worried about our security and about access to food rations,” a female IDP (source 1) who lives in an IDP camp in eastern Demawso Township told Kantarawaddy Times.

The people living in these three IDP camps initially fled there in May 2021 when armed clashes broke out between the Burma Army and Karenni resistance groups in Sanpya Chauk Mai village in Demawso township. They had settled in the IDP camps for nearly two years before they were displaced again and forced to relocate to safer locations in late January 2023.

“We fled from our village when clashes broke out in Sanpya Chauk Mai in 2021. We lived in that IDP camp for almost two years. On 23 January, we no longer felt safe staying in that IDP camp and we decided to flee to a safer location. At the moment, we are hiding in the jungle. I don’t know what to do in this new place,” a male IDP (source 2) told Kantarawaddy Times.

The IDPs fled in different directions when they left the old IDP camps, and they are now staying in different areas. Sayar Banyar (source 3), Director of the Karenni Human Rights Group (KnHRG), said that his organization is trying to regroup these IDPs at a new camp where they can provide the IDPs with food rations.

“At the movement, we are providing emergency food relief to some IDPs who recently fled. We plan to provide food rations to all of the recent IDPs after we are able to make a list of the IDPs who have moved to a new camp. Some IDPs are hiding in the jungle and some IDPs went to different remote villages. This is why we are trying to regroup them at a common place. After that, we will provide food rations for them,” Sayar Banyar (source 3) told Kantarawaddy Times.

In addition to people from the three IDP camps, people from 11 nearby villages needed to flee the clashes in eastern Demawso township in late January 2023. The total number of new IDPs is not confirmed, but KnHRG estimated that approximately 3,500 people have been affected by the regime’s recent military offensive in Demawso Township.

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