Recent fighting between the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army and Government troops displaced more than 1,000 people from their homes, left them stranded and in urgent need of assistance for food, shelter and other basic items.
The villagers fled their homes to avoid being caught in the conflict that started on July 2nd on the Myawaddy-Kawkariek Asia Highway. Today, three weeks later, the conflict is still ongoing in areas in the Myawaddy and Kawkreik townships.
Saw Di Kaung Ku, the village head of Kaung-Mu village that had been caught up in the fighting, told Karen News that villagers from Kaung-Mu, Saw Hel and Thit Wor villages fled the fighting, as the DKBA camps are close to the three villages.
Speaking to Karen News, Saw Di Kaung Ku said.
“All the people from my village fled. There are some DKBA soldiers in our village. We dare not stay in the village anymore. When we left our houses, we could not take anything with us. We left our buffaloes and cows in our village. Government officials do not allow us to go back to our village to take our belongings. We really are in difficult place.”
Abbot U Sandi Mar from the Mi Cyaung Kone Monastery at Hlaing-Sane village in Kawkareik Township that is currently looking after the fleeing villagers said that there is not much support for the displaced villagers and little food or shelters. The Abbot warned that the displacement is also detrimental to children in the long-term as they cannot go to school.
According to Saw Di Kaung Ku, the displaced villagers are now seeking temporary shelter in nearby villages as well as at monasteries Kawkareik Town.
Saw Di Kaung Ku said that although they have received support from local village administration, it is not enough to go around.
The DKBA’s Colonel Saw San Aung in an earlier interview with Karen News blamed the Burma Army and its Border Guard Force for continue fighting as they try to gain control over DKBA positions.
Speaking to Karen News, Colonel Saw San Aung said.
“The government troops started launching artillery to our positions first, then they came into our controlled areas. This caused the confrontation between the troops.”
Negotiations and attempts to stop the fighting have been made on several occasions, but it has not resulted in a complete halt to the fighting, but has reduce the scale and severity of the clashes.
The State-owned media announced on 12th July, that there had been 39 firefights on both the old road and on the new Asia Highway, as government troops and its militia, the BGF attempted to gain control over both roads.