The Number of Displaced Doubles Since Coup: Myaing Gyi Ngu IDPs Increase to 10,000 As More New Arrival From Hpa-pun Areas Expected

The increased numbers of displaced people in northern Karen State is of great concern for humanitarian groups delivering aid.

A community leader, documenting the population of displaced villagers, told Karen News the increasing numbers of displaced people has put strain on the limited resources. The community leader said despite the the strain on the dwindling resources people continued to share with the new arrivals.

“The list of people is still not complete. But since the fighting intensified last year, many displaced people have arrived to Myaing Gyi Ngu. Even now, a family or two arriving on a daily basis. It is increasing everyday. For food and other rations, we share what we have.”

The numbers of displaced villagers seeking safety at Myaing Gyi Ngu (also known as) Kaw Taw, in Hlaingbwe Township is still increasing as displaced villagers from Hpa-pun areas in the northern Karen State arrive.

Community leaders documenting the IDPs in the area said currently, there are more than 10,000 displaced people at the Myaing Gyi Ngu site, including new arrivals from the Hpa-pun areas.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) confirmed in a statement released on Friday 11 February getting aid to displaced communities is proving difficult.

“Humanitarian access in many parts remains restricted due to insecurity, roadblocks and challenges in obtaining access approvals.”

The UNHCR estimated the number of displaced people since the military coup has doubled.

“In total, some 440,000 people have been newly displaced since February 2021 – when a brutal military coup displaced the democratically elected government – adding to an existing 370,000 who had fled their homes previously.”

The UNHCR explained the “country’s southeast, Kayin, Kayah, Mon and Shan (South) states as well as Bago (East) and Tanintharyi regions, account for more than half of the 440,000 newly displaced civilians.”

The daily intensified fighting between the Burma Army and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in the Brigade 5, Hpa-pun (Mutraw) district in Karen State, has made the area dangerous for civilians to stay in their homes. Burma Army indiscriminate shelling and shoot on sight orders has meant civilians have no choice but to flee. Villagers are now fleeing to Myaing Gyi Ngu in Hlaingbwe Township in Pa-an dsitrict, causing an influx of displaced people to the Myaing Gyi Ngu site.

Community leaders said many Hpa-pun people displaced since March 2021 are now taking refuge in Myaing Gyi Ngu and in Ohn Taw village and Kama Maung Town – separated by the Salween River.

In the three Myaing Gyi Ngu area IDP camps – Kyauk Sar Kwin and Myat Pan Wut Mhone – a total of 700 households with around 4,000 people have placed a strain on the limited resources available.

As of February 23, the total number of IDPs at Myaing Gyi Ngu, including new arrivals from Hpa-pun has reached to more than 10,000. Some IDPs from Hpa-pun, living in camps close to their villages, are trying to go back and forth to check on their villages has made it hard to confirm the exact number of IDP’s, according to community leaders.

Getting humanitarian aid to the displaced is a causing a massive logistic problem, and adding to the difficulties are army checkpoints under the control of the military regime.

Displaced people told Karen News the new arrivals from Hpa-pun are having trouble finding accommodation, some stayed with acquaintances in the IDP camps while others asked nearby house owners for permission to live under their houses or to build huts in their backyards, according to a displaced person living in Myaing Gyi Ngu.

Myaing Gyi Ngu IDP camps were set up in 2017 to shelter displaced villagers from the Mae Tha Waw areas, after armed conflict between the then breakaway Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Burma Army backed Border Guard Force (BGF). Now it is used by displaced villagers from the Hpa-pun area. Local and International aid groups are trying to provide food and other supplies, but as the numbers of IDP’s increase daily there is not enough to give to everyone.

A displaced person staying at Myaing Gyi Ngu told Karen News, “International organizations providing aid. As there are now a lot of IDPs, it is not enough. But we share (the resources). Newcomers are more in need of pots and pans when they arrive, so we need to provide them with these even when they are not on the [official] list. We are also sharing with families in the Ohn Taw area.”

In February this year, the UNHCR said they provided emergency supplies to more than 4,000 existing IDPs in Myaing Gyi Ngu, and the World Food Program (WFP) said they had supplied rice to as many as 6,800 people in the region.

According to the latest information from Mutraw News on February 27, 81 locals from Hpa-pun areas fled to Kama Maung with nineteen cars and eleven motorcycles on February 26 due to the Burma Army making arbitrary arrests of civilians and the heavy artillery shelling of homes.

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