Civilians Forced to Flee Again as Myanmar Junta Shells IDP Camps in Chin State

By The Irrawaddy 9 June 2021

Around 5,000 internally displaced persons including residents of three villages in Chin State’s mountain town of Mindat have been forced to flee their homes and camps again after nearby areas came under attack from junta forces firing artillery and explosives.

The junta’s attacks are worsening an already critical situation for the IDPs, who are cut off from humanitarian aid supplies, according to a camp official.

Since June 5, military units based in Mindat, Chin State and Kyaukhtu town in Magwe Region have been attacking areas near three villages—Phayar Sakhan, Yatyaw and Shat—with artillery shells and heavy explosives.

The villages are sheltering several thousand people who fled Mindat when the junta’s forces raided the town on May 12.

The artillery attacks began after around 50 junta troops from two military columns attempting to raid the villages were killed by Mindat Defense Force fighters during intense shootouts near Phayar Sakhan and Shat villages last Sunday.

The military continued its artillery attacks in northern Mindat on Wednesday, according to residents.

“Now, there are only a few areas left for IDPs to flee to. The IDPs are tired of running. They are also facing food shortages as the junta has cut off the transportation of aid,” said an official of Mindat’s IDPs Camp Committee.

The supply of humanitarian aid to IDP camps has been cut off since junta troops seized 10 vehicles loaded with food and other necessities, the official said. Junta troops are inspecting all vehicles traveling in Mindat Township.

The camp official added that the IDP camps will run out of food very soon.

“All IDPs are civilians. But the junta treats us like the enemy. The junta’s soldiers are attacking both IDPs and the Chinland Defense Force indiscriminately. We have no more land to keep fleeing to,” he said.

Civilian resistance fighters of Chinland Defense Force-Mindat and the junta’s troops have been clashing continuously in Mindat since May 12, when a ceasefire agreed in late April broke down. About 21 resistance fighters and around 70 junta soldiers have been killed so far.

About 90 percent of Mindat’s population of 25,000 have fled their homes since junta forces seized the town on May 15.

Currently, about 20,000 residents are taking refuge in about 77 villages in Mindat Township.

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