350 Displaced Civilians Arrive in Shan Border Town

By Kyaw Myo Tun 5 March 2015

RANGOON — More than 350 displaced civilians arrived in northern Shan State’s Chin Shwe Haw on Wednesday after spending several weeks hiding in the forest on the Burma-China border to escape fighting in the Kokang Special Region, an aid worker said.

Chit Mi, a teacher who has been volunteering to help displaced families staying at a Buddhist school in Kunlong, told The Irrawaddy that the group had been hiding in the forests between Laukkai and the Chinese border town of Nansan after clashes erupted in Laukkai Township last month.

After the township was brought under control by the Burma Army in the past week or so, the group began to leave the forest and walked via Laukkai to the Shan State border town of Chin Shwe Haw, where aid workers would pick them up, Chit Mi said.

“Some walked from a camp near Nansan to Laukkai. They are coming to Chin Shwe Haw on foot from Laukkai along the motorway,” she said, adding that the families were migrant workers from central Burma who had been employed as farm and construction workers in the Kokang region.

Some 10,000 Burmese workers fled south from the region after fighting between the Burma Army and the Kokang ethnic rebels, known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), escalated on Feb. 9. Those fleeing south were welcomed by the army, Burmese Red Cross and authorities.

Many more ethnic Kokang civilians—by some unconfirmed estimates as many as 50,000—fled to China, where authorities have set up emergency shelters for them. The Chinese government has released little official information about their plight and their exact numbers.

Although Laukkai town is under control of the Burma Army, skirmishes are still continuing in outlying parts of the township, where the MNDAA and its allies, such as the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, are engaged in clashes with government forces.