Displaced Kayah Civilians Going Hungry as Myanmar Junta Blocks Supplies

By The Irrawaddy 27 January 2022

Villagers in Hpruso Township in Kayah State are facing serious food shortages due to ongoing clashes between resistance groups and Myanmar’s junta and are surviving on corn mixed with rice.

Nearly 200,000 people have been displaced by the fighting across Kayah State amid indiscriminate aerial attacks. The state capital, Loikaw, and Demoso are now largely deserted.

Civilians in displacement camps say they have been hungry for more than a week due to rice shortages and they only have a few days of rice and corn left.

Ko Banyar, spokesman for the Karenni Human Rights Group, said: “People in Bawlake village-tract are hungry. Junta soldiers use a hill near the village to fetch water and regularly clash with resistance groups. The area is dangerous because of the soldiers and delivering food is difficult. Villagers are eating a rice and corn mix.

“Fighting since the coup has halved agricultural production. People can’t afford to buy food. International charities want to supply Kayah but the regime keeps them out. The problems will increase if the fighting continues,” added Ko Banyar.

The price of a rice sack has risen from 30,000 kyats (US$17) to over 60,000 to 70,000 kyats, he said.

A Hpruso Township farmer, who grows sesame seeds and corn, said: “We don’t grow rice. We buy rice by selling sesame and corn. As the rice price soars, we face shortages.”

Fighting in Kayah State has prevented farmers selling their crops and the prices of maize and sesame have declined while transport costs have risen. The regime has blocked roads across the state.

There are only about 40,000 hectares of Kayah paddy fields and rice production only meets about half of the state’s demand.

The regime is also blocking medical supplies from Yangon, Mandalay and other cities.

The regime recently said displaced Loikaw residents are returning to the state capital.

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