Kayah Civilians Going Hungry as Myanmar Junta Prevents Supplies

By The Irrawaddy 31 August 2022

People displaced by fighting between Myanmar’s regime and resistance forces in Kayah State are facing food shortages amid blocks on relief supplies, according to volunteers.

Around 200,000 people have been displaced in Kayah State and Demoso Township was hit hardest by fighting with approximately 150,000 displaced.

The regime has blocked supply routes in Kayah State, said volunteers.

A member of the Jobs for Kayah Team, a humanitarian group helping those displaced, said: “Food prices have soared making it difficult for donors to send supplies. People can’t farm and food is scarce. Rice prices are high as we rely on supplies from central Myanmar. And we can’t get as much as we need because the regime imposes restrictions on roads.”

Displaced people have seen a significant decline in food donations since May.

Fransics from the Kayah State supervisory committee for displaced people said: “We have to share what we have and only provide nine to 12 cans of rice per person for a month. It is only enough for three days. So they have to feed themselves for the rest of the month.”

Children at a displacement camp in Demoso. / DMO

Life is more difficult for large families with adults skipping meals to feed their children. A displaced woman in her 50s said: “Many big families are going hungry as adults are eating less to feed their children.”

Displaced people said it has been several months since they last ate meat and they make do with vegetables found in forests.

Junta troops have destroyed food reserves in villages and the fighting prevents farming, said residents.

Some 65 percent of displaced people in Kayah State live in camps and survive on donations.

Health problems are increasing, said Ko Banyar, director of the Karenni Human Rights Group.

“There are maternal and child health problems. Prolonged malnutrition harms children’s cognitive, mental and physical development,” he said.

A health worker checks a woman at a displacement camp in Demoso. / DMO

Some have returned to their villages only to be killed or injured by landmines planted by the regime.

According to the Progressive Karenni People’s Force, 420 clashes had taken place by August 15 in Kayah State. More than 1,300 junta soldiers, 149 resistance fighters and more than 300 civilians had died, the group said.