Chin Villagers Fleeing from the Burma Army Jet Attacks

The frontline humanitarian organization Free Burma Rangers reports that the Burma Army used fighter jets to bomb villages in Paletwa Township, Chin State.

FBR said despite COVID-19 pandemic the jets opened fire on villages. “The escalating conflict between the Arakan Army and Burma Army has been disastrous on local populations as civilians are caught in the crossfire. On March 15, the Burma Army dropped bombs into Wohma Village, Chin State, killing nine people and wounding 12 people.”

FBR cite a report by the “United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), that estimates “recent clashes have led to the displacement of over 61,000 persons in Arakan and Chin states since March 16, 2020. Many civilians have sought refuge in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps throughout the area, but the influx of people has depleted the resources of the camps.”

Mar Lah, from Wohma village described in an interview with FBR the attack.

“On March 15, 2020, at 3pm Burma Army jet fighters dropped bombs on our villages. Nine villagers died and twelve were wounded. It was chaos. Houses burned to the ground, we couldn’t see because of smoke, we couldn’t find each other. It was so loud I could only hear my own voice but felt like I can hear the dead cry out. We are all very afraid and fled to the jungle because the planes kept circling and dropping bombs. We had to flee in the dark and use no lights so the Burma Army could not see us moving. We fled from March 15 until the evening of March 16. We fled with our children and we had no food until we arrived at the Sami IDP Camp. Now we face trouble at the camp. We do not know who to trust and fear both the Burma Army and Arakan Army as we think more fighting will break out. We cannot work or make money and there is not enough food at this camp. All we can do is hope and pray for donations.”

In May the Free Burma Rangers documented human rights abuses and delivered aid to people displaced by the fighting and now living in Sami IDP Camp in southern Chin State.

FBR reported Burma Army soldiers in the area restricted its aid operation. “Soldiers from Burma Army Battalion 169 occupy the [Sami] camp, blocking the movement of individuals and supplies to other villages in Paletwa District. FBR said in its report, “only Burma Army soldiers are permitted in this area and any civilian found will be killed.”

Despite the Burma Army presence and COVID-19 restrictions FBR “were still able to distribute clothes and over 150 bags of rice to IDPs in the camp. FBR medics were able to set up a medical clinic in the camp. Alongside local nurses, who are unable to move beyond the camp due to the restrictions by the Burma Army soldiers, FBR treated 480 patients with ailments including: anemia, gastritis, kidney issues and the common cold.

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