Burma Army Attacks Displaced 20,000 Civilians kill 20 and injure 27 – Urgent Need for Shelter, Food, Medicine…

Despite the unilateral declaration of ceasefire for one month by the Burma military junta, its troops in Karen State continue to use ground and air attacks against unarmed civilians.

The Free Burma Ranger, a frontline humanitarian group, reported on April 5 the military launched two airstrikes on Dwe Loe Township, Mutraw (Papun) District northern Karen State.

On the same day as it announced its one-month ceasefire, Burma Army troops indiscriminately fired mortars into villages in Lu Thaw Township.

The air strikes and Burma Army bombardments that began on 27th of March in Karen State killed 20 and injured 27 Karen civilians and displaced as many as 20,000 villagers. Civil society groups said the displaced villagers are now seeking safety in makeshift jungle hideouts and are urgently in need of humanitarian assistance.

To get away from the attacks, many Karen civilians fled into Thailand seeking safety, but Thai officials pushed them back to the Burma side of the border and they are now in dire need of emergency relief.

Naw Serena, displaced from her home by the attacks fled to Thailand for her safety said she was forced to return. She said she worries for her family welfare and safety. Naw Serena said since they returned to the Burma side of the border her family and her community has been staying near the Salween riverbank. The Salween marks the border between Thailand and Burma and Naw Serena said her family doesn’t have choices.

“We always have to be alert. We worry the planes will return with their rockets and bombs.”

Naw Serena raised difficulties her community is now having to face.

“We do not have enough food, we have a little rice that we share, but this will run out in no time. If we have to keep living like this, our lives are in great danger.”

Organisations coordinating assistance for displaced communities confirmed that limited access to food, health, shelter and safety are the immediate key challenges displaced communities are now facing.

Naw Pyone Pyone, a health coordinator for the Karen Women’s Organisation explained how the impact of sudden dislocation affects children, older people and pregnant women.

“People do not feel secure enough to return to their village and nor do they have proper shelter in places where they are hiding. Living in the jungle without proper shelter during the heavy rains will lead to a number of critical health issues among the vulnerable members of the community.”

The Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN), a network of civil society organization coordinating assistance to the displaced communities, said seven Karen villages in the KNU controlled areas of Mutraw (Papun) District including Day Bu Noe village and Ei Tu Hta IDP camp are suffering by the military attacks.

The FBR report noted in the KNU Mutraw (Papun) District of 5th Brigade alone, 26 Burma Army battalions had intensified its attacks. FBR recorded previous airstrike and mortar shelling forced as many as 20,000 civilians from their homes into hiding and these villagers are without any organised support.

From March 27th until April the 8th, air strikes carried out by the military destroyed houses and buildings. Karen Environmental Social Action Network, confirmed 20 civilians were killed and 27 were injured in the attacks.

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