Volunteers Struggle To Provide For Civilians Fleeing Loikaw Fighting

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By Kantarawaddy Times

Southern Shan State is awash with civilians fleeing airstrikes and artillery attacks in Loikaw, where an estimated two-thirds of the 51,000 residents have fled since the Burma Army (BA) launched a major offensive against resistance groups and all other residents of the Karenni State capital last Thursday.

Volunteers told Kantarawaddy Times that over 10,000 people have sought refuge in Hsihseng Township and over 1,000 in Pinlaung Township, both in southern Shan State.

”More people are coming to Hsihseng every day. But I cannot say how many have arrived because many have gone to stay with their relatives in other wards and villages,” said Khun Kyaw Swe, who looks after the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the town.

The IDPs were hosted at the Buddhist Learning Centre, Myoleh Dhamma Hall, Mingalar Pagoda, Tharthana Mingalar Buddhist Monastery, Phayar Phyu Ppagoda and the Catholic Church in town. Three places were prepared for them in Seik Hkawng village tract.

Khun San Oo from the Nawng Tayar Youth Volunteer Team said they have prepared places for 500 people in Nawng Tayar in Pinlaung Township and 250 have arrived so far. ”I expect the camp to fill up in the next day or two,” he said, then another place will be prepared for the new arrivals. As in Hsihseng, many IDPs are bunking with relatives in other wards in the township.

IDPs are also staying in Nyawng Shwe, Aungpan, Kalaw, Pindaya, Taunggyi and around Inlay (Inle) Lake.

Volunteers said they urgently needed humanitarian assistance to feed and house all the people who arrived around the same time. The military checked everyone’s ID and phones and some BA soldiers shot at their buses, forcing them to stop, often delaying their journey for hours.

Since 6 January, fighting between BA and the Karenni Army and its allies, the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force and the People’s Defence Force, has intensified in the Mai Lon, Ywa Tan Shay and Pan Kang wards of Loikaw.

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