Returning home still a dream

In November 2010, Hsa Bluh Paw and her family were forced from their home after Burma Army soldiers and a breakaway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army started fighting. Despite the Burma government’s talk of reform and signing ceasefire with ethnic political organizations the Burma Army has continued to wage war in ethnic states. Hsa Bluh Paw and her family are caught in the middle and are still unable to return to their home or farm.

Hsa Bluh Paw, 45, is a mother of five children. She and her husband, Saw Baybay are farmers from Wale village in Myawaddy Township, Karen State. She tells Karen News remembers of the night she had to flee from the bombs that hammered her village.

“We fled without food; we had to sleep on the bare ground for three days.”

Hsa Bluh Paw and her family are now living in temporary shelter in a border area of Phopra Township, on the Thai side of border. The family is now living in a small bamboo hut and earns their living from doing daily labor. Hsa Bluh Paw said that it was hard on her children, as their school has been disrupted.

“Only two of my children can manage to continue study in a migrant school, the others have to help their father work as daily laborers to earn money for our living.”

Hsa Bluh Paw said it was hard at first on the family when we tried to take shelter on the Thai side as the local authorities had been harsh towards them.

“We were forced back while there was still fighting in the village. We were afraid to go back but we had no choice, we were scared. The Burma Army shelled mortars into the village and burnt down the primary school, we escaped again over the border, this time into a Thai village.”

Naw Hsa Bluh Paw said that the family lost their farm produce, as they had to run before they could harvest their crops.

“We had a corn field ready to pick, we couldn’t harvest it as we had to run. We’ve lost all of our income for the year.”

More than 30,000 civilians from Myawaddy and nearby townships in Karen State were forced from their homes after Burma’s national election in November 2010; thousands of them are still unable to return to their homes and are living as displaced people along the Thai-Burma border. Many have to rely on hit-and-miss daily labor work to feed their families and the kindness of villagers to shelter them. In eastern Burma there are more than 440,000 displaced people and while the Burma government has won plaudits from the international community for its cautious reforms this massive displacement has been ignored.

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