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Church rushes to aid displaced in Shan State

About 1,000 have fled latest armed conflict

Church rushes to aid displaced in Shan State
Displaced people in Shan State hide in the jungle (Shan Human Rights Foundation)
John Zaw, Mandalay

April 9, 2013

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The local Catholic Church began handing out food today to villagers displaced by recent conflicts between government troops and the Shan State Army North (SSA-N) rebels.

About 1,000 people have fled their villages near Tangyan in northwestern Myanmar, according to a local rights group.

“Local social welfare associations and political parties are helping with food, non-food items and healthcare of the displaced villagers, but we still need help for the long term,” said Sai Hkam Leik, a member of the relief committee in Tangyan.

“So far, these displaced villagers don't dare to go back to their villages, which are between the government troops and the Shan rebels,” Sai Hkm Leik said.

Lashio Diocese has donated 2 million kyats (US$2,300) for relief efforts and another one million Kyat will come from Karuna National, according to Nyo Min Than, a Karuna Lashio coordinator. 

“We will take rice, oil and salt, and at the same time we will do a detailed assessment of the displaced there,” Nyo Min Than said today.

No other aid has reached the area yet, although the World Food Programme (WFP) is conducting an assessment, Nyo Min Than said.

More than 700 people from the Shan, Lahu and Palaung tribes have found shelter in a Buddhist monastery and in local houses, and another 300 are hiding in the nearby jungle, according to the Shan Human Rights Foundation.

“Atrocities by Burmese troops in a new military operation against the Shan State Army North (SSA-N) have caused more than 1,000 villagers from 16 villages in Tangyan to flee from their homes during the past two weeks,” the group reported on April 5.

Since February, thousands of Myanmar troops have been deployed to pressure the SSA-N to withdraw from its territories along the Salween River, near Tangyan.

The Foundation claims there have been armed clashes and Myanmar troops have been laying land mines and committing human rights violations against local civilians.

The SSA-N signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in January 2012, which is reportedly being breached by the current military operations.

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