By Kantarawaddy Times
Civilians displaced by the conflict between the regime and resistance forces are not getting enough food delivered to their camps after the army stopped letting rice pass through military checkpoints in Karenni State.
“We are really struggling to transport food for IDP (internally displaced persons) in Karenni State. Even ordinary business people are facing difficulties,” said U Banyar, director of the Karenni Human Rights Group. He said the army also stops packaged food, medicines and tarpaulins at its checkpoints and controls how much fuel people can carry.
The Kayan-region Rescue Committee (KRC) used to send food to IDPs in western Pekon Township in Shan State and western Demoso Township in Karenni State, but now it is becoming increasingly challenging.
Because of the fighting, farmers in Mobye could no longer grow rice, which has led to a massive shortage, a male member explained. Civil societies and non-governmental organisations are trying to buy rice from upper Burma but they can’t get them through the checkpoints.
He said that sometimes the army let through half a sack, but not more than that. Sometimes they beat people for having rice in their vehicle. The soldiers have already confiscated hundreds of bags that were sent from the upper plains.
Food prices have increased drastically in Karenni State since December last year. A bag of rice, which used to cost about 35,000 kyats per bag, now costs 75,000 kyats.
According to a member of the Karenni IDP Assistance Network, who requested anonymity, rice banks have been damaged by the fighting as villagers could not take their paddy with them when they fled.
“We are not able to go to the village when fighting breaks out. After that, we have to monitor the situation on the ground before we can go and get our rice.”
As the violence escalates, IDPs are forced to move several times and cannot work on their farms, so they rely on handouts.
In 2021, the KRC source said it was able to distribute donations to IDP camps on a regular basis, but many groups can no longer do this.
“We provide two baskets of rice (16 cans) per person every month. But many donor organizations cannot provide any rice for IDPs.”
Since the coup, over 250,000 people in Demoso, Hpruso and Loikaw townships in Karenni State and Pekon and Pinlaung townships in southern Shan state have been forced from their homes.