Torrential Rains and Heavy Winds Destroy Displaced Villagers Makeshift Shelters and Security

Heavy rains have flooded makeshift shelters of displaced villagers taking on the Thaung Yin (Moei) River banks. The displaced have been using the temporary shelters after they were forced by Burma Army artillery attacks on their villages in the Lay Kay Kaw areas, south of Myawaddy in Karen State in late December 2021.

Just when the displaced people, thought it could not get any worse, their makeshift shelters offering little resistance, were smashed when unseasonal heavy rains and gale force winds tore through their encampment on the 4th and 5th of February.

A Lay Kay Kaw displaced villager told Karen News.

“It rained so hard in the early night [of February 4th], our shelters couldn’t take it anymore. We had to take cover under pieces of plastic to shelter from the wind and rain. Most of us live under temporary plastic sheeting over bamboo and tree branches as support. We couldn’t sleep as the heavy rains flooded our sleeping ground.”

As many as 5,000 IDPs from Htee Mae Wah Khee, Pa Hee Klaw, Yathit Gu, Palu Gyi, Palu Lay and Lay Kay Kaw New Town are still living under temporary shelters on river sandbanks along the Thai-Burma border.

Private donors from Myanmar migrant worker communities in Thailand, Karen community based organizations and other border-based aid groups have been providing food, medicines, and other items of necessity for the displaced communities. Aid workers told Karen News many IDPs are out of reach of aid groups and are struggling to get food and basic shelter.

An aid worker on the Thai side of the border who is helping the IDPs said; “Many are displaced further inside [Burma], a long way from the safety of the Thaung Yin (Moei) River. We cannot cross to the Burma side of the river to provide aid. The situation now, is that we from the Thai side have made contact with IDPs group leaders and are sending support.”

Aid workers and those offering help in the Burmese border town of Myawaddy to the IDP’s are also experiencing difficulties accessing IDP communities as they are only allowed to go up to Mae Htaw Thale, Min Latt Pan, and Inkyin Myaing villages that are under the control of DKBA militia and the Burma Army. Aid providers said they needed to contact IDPs communities to try to provide supplies to displaced people taking shelter deeper inside the country, as the Burma Army is blocking aid to the Lay Kay Kaw areas.

Karen community groups giving assistance to displaced communities said they are able to provide emergency help to the displaced villagers – basic shelters, food and non-food items, but because the displacement has been for two months, villagers are now facing further difficulties as the shelters are inadequate, especially with heavy rains and storm winds.

Community-based-organizations estimate Burma Army attacks displaced more than 10,000 villagers from Lay Kay Kaw and other nearby villages, as many as 4,000 of the displaced tried to flee to Thailand for their safety. Aid workers said Thai authorities had hosted the displaced villagers for a month, providing basic needs, but now the temporary shelters have been ordered closed. The returning IDPs leaving Thailand said they cannot return to their villages because of the Burma Army violence and landmines are setting up basic shelters on the Thaung Yin (Moei) River bank.

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