Karen State: Airstrikes, Artillery Bombardments, Ground Fighting – Making it Impossible for Tens of Thousands of Displaced Villagers to Return Home

Escalating armed conflict throughout Karen National Union (KNU) controlled areas has left tens of thousands of displaced civilians struggling to find safety and unable to go back to their home villages.

A KNU statement released on January 26, said military attacks by the Burma Army and its sponsored militia, the Border Guard Force (BGF) since the February 1st 2021 military coup, has been daily. The Burma Army and its militia have focus attacks on local Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO) units, and in doing so, displacing thousands of civilians.

Community aid workers monitoring the situation said displaced villagers living in KNU controlled Doo Tha Htoo (Thaton) District (Brigade 1), Nyaunglebin District (Brigade 3), Megui-Tavoy District (Brigade 4), Mutraw District (Brigade 5), and Dooplaya District (Brigade 6) are finding living conditions difficult in the temporary displaced areas – food shortages, medicine and finding adequate temporary shelter.

Naw K’Nyaw Paw, general secretary of the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) who is providing aid to the displaced villagers, explained the difficulties to Karen News.

“The situations of the displaced villagers, especially the ones from Dooplaya District, are now coping with dire conditions. There are [civilian] casualties from the heavy artillery bombardments. For those, who have just recently fled from their homes, there are a whole range of new problems. Displaced villagers in Mutraw District are also struggling to cope. They have been on the run for months. They need to hide in deep forest when heavy artillery shells are fired. It is difficult for them to maintain their livelihoods and to get enough food for their families.”

The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), documented human rights abuses in southeastern Burma, recorded more than 100,000 people newly displaced between April 2021 and January 2022 by Burma Army ground attacks and airstrikes in KNU-controlled areas.

Community workers said displaced children and the elderly are finding it especially difficult – children cannot attend school and the old face hardship caused by the disruption to their daily lives and the coping with the weather while living in jungle and mountain hiding sites.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on January 26 said more than 385,000 people were displaced as a result of clashes between the Military appointed State Administration Council [Burma Army] and Ethnic Armed Organizations and newly formed Public Defense Force (PDF) units in the northwestern and eastern parts of Myanmar.

According to United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (UNOCHA) statistics, as of January 18, this year, there were 113,900 displaced people in Sagaing Region, 33,800 in Chin State, 20,100 in Magway Region, a total of 167,800 displaced people in northwestern Myanmar.

There were 91,400 displaced people in Karenni (Kayah) State, 74,600 in Karen State, 42,600 in Southern Shan State, 7,100 in Mon State, 1,600 in Tannintharyi Region, and 600 in Pegu Region, making up a total of 217,900 displaced people in eastern Myanmar, according to UNOCHA statement.

Meanwhile, the Burma Army carried out an airstrike, on January 31, in Mutraw District, northern Karen State, preventing displaced villagers returning to their villages.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button