IDPs Face Food Shortages

By Wai Wai Lwin 6 January 2017

RANGOON — More than 1,300 internal displaced persons (IDPs) who are taking shelter in a monastery in northern Shan State’s Namtu town will soon face food shortages, according to local sources.

Nang Sam Hown, a lawmaker from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy in Namtu Township said the IDPs have enough food for one week. She added that the IDPs are also facing problems finding sufficient shelter as well.

Fighting broke out in the area between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) as well as between the TNLA and the Burma Army. The conflict forced local Shan, Kachin and Palaung (Ta’ang) people to flee the township.

About 1,300 IDPs took refuge at five camps in Namtu Township, as well as in religious buildings.

“The government and local donors are providing food and shelter for IDPs but it still is not enough. Also, some donors cannot make it to the area for various reasons,” said Nang Sam Hown.

Ethnic Shan and Palaung had previously lived alongside one another for years. However, SSA-S troops reportedly tried to form a base in northern Shan State after the group signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement in Oct. 2015, prompting the TNLA to attack in an effort to oust the group from the area.

A Rangoon-based local NGO also visited an IDP camp in Kachin State’s Mansi Township hosting 2,500 people and said that soon, it too will face a food shortage.

U Moe Kyaw Thu Bo Bo, a senior staff member from the NGO, hosted a press conference on Friday in Rangoon at the Royal Rose guesthouse where he told reporters about his trip and the food insecurity in IDP camps.

He added that Burmese authorities have restricted the transportation of humanitarian aid at Shan State’s Ruili Bridge.

“On the phone, you can get permission to cross. But on the ground, it is a different story. They won’t let you cross. I was hidden in the back of a car in order to get into the camps,” he said.

“If this restriction remains, people in the camps will go hungry,” said U Moe Kyaw Thu Bo Bo.