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AA-Military Clashes Force Hundreds to Flee Southern Chin

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 12 June 2019

YANGON—Over 750 civilians from rural parts of Chin State’s Paletwa Township have fled to urban areas of the township for fear of being trapped by the fighting between the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army (AA).

“They have been arriving from June 8 through June 11, and there are a total of 752 people from 150 households,” said U Kyaw Aung, secretary of a local humanitarian group based in the township.

They fled three villages in the Pein Ne Tabin village tract, and are taking shelter at three camps and the houses of their relatives, he said.

Camps have been opened at a Christian church, the office of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the office of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

They fled in fear after hearing gunshots in the vicinity of their villages.

“They fled for fear that they would be in trouble and something would happen to them,” said U Kyaw Aung.

The Chin State government has provided 500 bags of rice for them, and individual donors are also providing relief supplies.

Before this latest flood of displacement, over 2,600 locals had been forced to move to safer areas. The total number now stands at over 3,000.

Hundreds of displaced villagers fled to the Myanmar-Bangladesh border when fighting intensified in February, but with Bangladeshi authorities refusing to accept them, approximately 200 are now taking shelter in areas controlled by the AA near the border.

Chin communities have claimed that over 50 ethnic Chin people are in the 200-member group, and accused the AA of abducting them.

The AA has however denied accusations of abduction, saying they are in fact providing shelter and food for them.

According to AA’s information officer Khaing Thukha, the last bout of fighting between the Tatmadaw and the AA took place on June 7. The AA has said the two sides have clashed more than 100 times since January.

On calculations made from media reports of civilian casualties, at least 40 civilians are feared to have died in shootings, mine explosions, artillery shell explosions and torture in detention in the five months of war.

According to local humanitarian groups, more than 40,000 people have been displaced by the clashes in Kyauktaw, Buthidaung, Minbya, Rathedaung, Mrauk-U and Ponnagyun townships in northern Rakhine State.

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