Assistance needed for over 3000 conflict-displaced people sheltering in Myawaddy monasteries

According to the internally displaced people (IDPs) from Mekanei village, more than 3,000 individuals have fled from conflicts and are currently seeking shelter in temporary war refugee camps situated both within and outside of Myawaddy Township in Karen State. These IDPs urgently require essential resources like food, accommodation, and healthcare support.

Following the battle that occurred on March 25th in the Myawaddy trade zone, fighting between the Military Council-Border Guard Forces (BGF) and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)-led revolutionary joint forces has been ongoing almost every day in the villages located on the outskirts of Myawaddy until April 20th. As a result of these armed conflicts, over 3000 local villagers in the region have been forced to flee their homes and have been displaced for nearly a month now.

At present, the inhabitants of Mekanei, Hpachaung, and Thingan Nyinaung villages have sought temporary refuge in four monasteries situated in Myawaddy town. Additionally, they have taken shelter in the Shan monastery in Hpachaung village, the monastery in Mingala Oo village, and the Myittar monastery. Urgent provision of basic food supplies is required to assist these IDPs, a displaced woman said.

“We are in the midst of constant fighting, with airstrikes and shelling endangering our community day and night. Our Mekanei village has suffered significant damage, with numerous homes, schools, and monasteries destroyed. As a result, it is challenging for us to return to our village, and we are currently relying on the support of local monasteries for temporary shelter. However, we require essential food items such as rice, oil, onions, and garlic, which we do not have access to in sufficient amounts. Despite some individual donations occurring every three days or so, we are in dire need of consistent and reliable aid to sustain ourselves”, she explained.

She emphasized that in addition to basic food items, IDPs require access to essential resources such as medicine, bedding, suitable accommodation, clothing, and clean drinking water.

Many of the displaced individuals had to flee for their lives, leaving behind even basic necessities like extra clothes. With the arrival of summer, access to minerals and clean drinking water has become a critical need. Limited access to water for daily use and bathing is further compounded by the need to use generators and water motors. Unfortunately, there has been no aid or donations of medicine and health supplies from external sources to support us during this difficult time”, she added.

IDPs who have fled from Mekanei and Hpachaung villages are currently seeking shelter in five different monasteries in Ywathit (new village) and outer Mekanei areas. The average number of IDPs taking refuge in each monastery is approximately 200. Additionally, there are currently 106 IDPs who have found temporary shelter at the Hpachaung village monastery and Shan monastery.

Furthermore, approximately 2000 individuals who reside in the Shwe Mya Sandi, Myaynigone, Aung Myay Shwe Bon, and Kyauk Lone Gyi (West) neighborhoods have been displaced and are currently seeking shelter in temporary camps located at Tawya Monastery, Hay Man Oo Monastery, and Myaynigone Monastery in Myawaddy town. Additionally, some individuals who have been affected by the conflict have sought refuge in other neighborhoods or in the nearby town of Lay Kay Kaw.

“Violence persists almost daily, and according to Military Council propaganda, they have successfully captured military bases belonging to Karen organizations. Our hope to return to our village was shattered by the BGFs who prevented our return, leaving us to live as displaced people for nearly a month. While we receive food donations from the Myawaddy Foundation and local wealthy individuals, the inconsistency of these donations leaves us to improvise and solve our food problems on days when there are no donors. The scorching sun makes working outside difficult, and our inability to assess the situation in our village has left us feeling lost and confused”, a social activist from Mekanei told KIC.

KIC attempted to communicate with the local authorities under the Military Council, and the Myawaddy Foundation to coordinate the provision of food and accommodation for the IDPs in Myawaddy, but unfortunately, did not receive any response.

The Military Council and BGFs have caused significant damage to civilian infrastructure in combat zones through their intense shelling, air raids, and use of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). Many houses, churches, monasteries, schools, and other buildings have been impacted. Furthermore, as of April 20th, due to the ongoing fighting in the region, vehicles on the Asia Highway connecting Myawaddy-Kawkareik were exercising caution and waiting for the situation to calm down before continuing their journeys.

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