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Transient Burman workers in Karen State

When the Burma military regime built a dam on the Swin Kyi River in 2010, eastern Karen state, more than 1,000 Karen people from nearby Ler Doh Township, in Nyaung Linbin district were displaced. Many of these villagers lost their established plantations and farms. The dam construction caused massive environmental damage, killing animals and forests.

Many of the Karen villagers who lost their homes took refuge lived in the jungle as displaced people. Ethnic Burman people from the Pago and Irrawaddy districts came to the area to work in a local goldmine and to fish in the Swin Kyi River. The area is under the control of the Karen Nation Union army. Most of the Burman transient workers have found work fishing, in the goldmines, some built small shops and others are trading goods. Maung Win Nyunt is a fisherman and has just been in the area for about a week said so far the signs are encouraging.

“Here there are more fish than in our homeland, if the work here is good, I will bring my family here”.

The Burman transient workers were struggling and came to the Swin Kyi River district because of the lack of work in their hometown. For the Karen villagers’ life is more difficult since the dam construction. They lost their farmlands and plantations and received no compensation from the regime. Karen villagers are trying to farm on the mountain, but the rice is not good and their rice fields were destroyed by swarms of insects.

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