Some 150 villagers who fled their homes in Mantong Township last month due to fighting between Burmese government forces and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) say they are now afraid to go home.
A makeshift refugee camp in Hsipaw Township where the villagers are staying
According to Sai Win Aung, an aid worker who is assisting the displaced persons in northern Shan State’s Hsipaw Township, the families are unwilling to chance going back due to the uncertain conflict situation.
“Although they [the Burmese army and TNLA] are not engaged in hostilities at this very moment, the situation is still very tense,” he told Shan Herald. “The villagers are worried that if they go back and the clashes resume, they will be caught in the middle and unable to get out.”
He added: “The villagers are also afraid of a new wave of conscription and tax collection in the area [by the TNLA].”
According to Nang San San Aye, an MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) representing Hsipaw Township Constituency No 2, local community leaders have gathered to discuss ways to resolve the problem.
“As the villagers are unable to go home, we are now discussing ways to help them,” she said. “We are also examining the possibility of expanding the village where they are sheltering or creating a new village for them, and we are checking to make sure it can be done in accordance with the law.”
On January 5, Shan Herald reported that since the beginning of January some 1,300 civilians from Mantong Township have fled their homes. They are currently sheltering at six camps in Namtu Township.
Civilians in the townships of Namsan, Namtu, Mantong, Kyaukme and Kutkhai have been regularly displaced since November 20 last year due to fighting between government troops and the newly proclaimed Northern Alliance, which comprises the Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the TNLA.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)
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