New parliament calls for cease-fire in Myanmar's north

Catholic group to provide supplies to those displaced by hostilities
New parliament calls for cease-fire in Myanmar's north

A 2014 file photo of soldiers of the Ta'ang National Liberation Army, a Palaung ethnic armed group, in Myanmar's northern Shan State. (Photo by AFP)

Christian lawmakers have joined Myanmar's parliament in calling for an end to interethnic fighting in northern Shan State and an immediate provision of aid to people displaced by the conflict.

An emergency proposal calling for the ceasing of hostilities between forces loyal to the Restoration Council of Shan State and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army won unanimous approval at a lower house parliamentary session on Feb. 17.

It remains unclear what initially triggered the fighting that began last November.

Due to the hostilities, more than 3,000 displaced ethnic Shan and Palaung have taken refuge in 16 monasteries in Kyaukme Township of Shan State since early February, according to aid groups.

Lway Po Sayki, an executive committee member from the Ta'ang Women Organization, said the numbers of displaced people are increasing.

"We are very much concerned for the children, especially students who need to sit for their final exam at school, that's why we are trying to arrange transportation for them," Lway Po Sayki told on Feb. 17.

She added that while local groups were providing help with whatever they can, many of the displaced people are in need of basic items.

Karuna Lashio, the Catholic Church's social arm of Lashio Diocese is planning to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced people.

"We are going to reach out to the people and carry out an assessment of what they most urgently need. Based on that we can then supply them as best we can," said Eddie, a project manager of Karuna Lashio.

The Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy party has vowed to prioritize peace in the divided country which has suffered internal conflicts since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.

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