More Than 1,200 Villagers Flee as Tatmadaw Battles TNLA in Northern Shan State

By Chit Min Tun 5 January 2018

YANGON—Over 1,200 residents of three villages in northern Shan State have fled to Kyaukme Township and Mongngaw Sub-township to escape fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). The clashes erupted on Dec. 27 on the border of Kyaukme and Namhsan townships.

Tensions between the Army and the TNLA remain high, according to local community-based organizations.

“Social organizations from Lashio, Namhsan and Kutkai townships as well as a Kyaukme-based committee for displaced persons have distributed relief supplies,” Ko Thar Zaw, a volunteer helping displaced persons in Kyaukme, told The Irrawaddy.

“We don’t know how many days the displaced persons will have to shelter here, or whether there will be additional needs,” he added.

The Department of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is also providing emergency aid to displaced persons.

“We’ve provided nine items of emergency aid to over 300 households. They include seven days’ rations of rice, clothing, soap, pans, blankets, towels and so on. People displaced in earlier clashes have already returned to their homes. These [1,200 villagers] are newcomers” displaced by the most recent clashes, said Ko Aung Kyaw Moe, a department official.

A total of 744 displaced persons are taking shelter at monasteries and mediation halls in Kyaukme, according to local community-based organizations. The rest are taking refuge at a pagoda and mediation halls in Mongngaw Sub-township, some 32 miles from Kyaukme.

The Kyaukme branch of the Myanmar Red Cross Society has also provided blankets and emergency childbirth kits for pregnant women.

“The Tatmadaw [Myanmar’s military] and the TNLA clashed at the border of Kyaukme and Namhsan. Neither side is willing to step back, though the fighting has stopped for the time being. But locals are concerned that it could break out again at anytime. So they fled,” Ko Thar Zaw said.

According to the TNLA Information Department, the TNLA and the Tatmadaw clashed from 7.25 am to 9.45 am near the village of Dow Lwe in Namhsan Township on Dec. 27.

Meanwhile, the Tatmadaw is also fighting the Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State’s Mansi Township.

Separately, clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army through November and December forced over 300 locals in Paletwa, Chin State to flee their homes.

More than 1,000 locals have crossed the border into India’s Mizoram State and are in need of relief supplies.