Fighting in Mae Tha Waw Continues to Displace Villagers Making it a Daily Struggle to Feed the 6,000 Homeless

Continued fighting between Karen armed groups are forcing more villages into all ready overcrowded displacement camps. Temporary shelters holding displaced villagers in Myaing Gyi Ngu have seen an increase in its population list due to the ongoing skirmishes in Mae Tha Waw areas, Hlaingbwe Township of Karen state.

A shelter official said that there are about 500 more villagers joining the previous registered 5,526 displaced people in the Myaing Gyi Ngu camps. The official said this has placed a huge strain on food supplies and the camp is struggling to feed everyone.

Saw Aung Win Tun, secretary of the shelter management team said the newly displaced villagers fled their homes because of the ongoing armed skirmishes between the government’s militia – the Border Guard Force (BGF) and the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA).

Saw Aung Win Tun spoke to Karen News and said.

“There is an increase of more than 100 households and at least 500 people [displaced]. Because there are still shootings in Yin Paing, Chaung Wa, and even Kyone Htaw and Mae Tha Waw villages, people are afraid to stay there, so they ran.”

The last registration of the shelter records shows that there were 1,007 households and 5,526 people in the camp from September 2016 to January 2017.

Shelter officials said that there has been an increase of around 100 households and 500 people that will not be officially registered anymore as their “seniors” have stopped making official registrations, although new comers may enter the camp and take shelter there.

Saw Aung Win Tun sad, “The higher level [officials] doesn’t want more people. They have said that more people can come, but they will not accept more registrations. If we count them again, there will be well over 1,100 households. When more people come, we just tell them to live and eat as we do. No registration is needed for that and they just come and stay here.”

The ongoing fighting and the danger of land mines in Mae Tha Waw areas still prevent people from Myaing Gyi Ngu temporary shelter returning to their villages. Meanwhile, attending to the needs of the more than 6,000 people is a daily struggle for the people who manage the camps.

Aye Tin La, in charge of the warehouse at the shelter spoke to Karen News about how they are struggling.

“Rice is just enough on a daily basis. When there is no donor and the rice runs out, we go to Myaing Gyi Ngu residing monk [to ask] for his contribution. We cook 68 tins [around 1,000 kilograms] of rice in the two temporary shelters. Now, the wet season has added more difficulties for getting firewood to cook.”

The fighting in Mae Tha Waw area between the BGF and the DKBA that started in September last year has resulted in the displacement of civilians from 30 villages in the Hlaingbwe township who are still not able to go back to their villages.

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