Myanmar junta forces have torched 19 villages in Depayin Township, Sagaing Region since the start of this month, destroying 50 percent of houses and leaving 10,000 people homeless.
The arson campaign in eastern Depyin Township was launched on Dec. 1 by a force of around 100 junta soldiers. So far, they have torched around 1,700 buildings, including monasteries.
The number of houses torched in each of the 19 villages, which comprise over 4,000 homes in total, ranges from nine to more than 300.
Na Myar village has lost 318 of its 500 houses in two arson attacks by regime troops in December, according to the Depyin Refugee Support Group.
Regime forces have also been raiding villages on the border with neighboring Ye- U Township this month. The raids have forced 310,00 civilians from 31 villages in Depayin Township to flee their homes.
Villagers began returning to their homes in the second week of December but many fled again after regime troops began shelling their villages from Ye-U Township.
“Civilians from Nyaung Hla fled again on Saturday after regime artillery shells landed on their village while they were cleaning up the ruins of their burnt-out house,” a spokesperson for Depyin Refugee Support Group told The Irrawaddy.
One woman resident suffered a leg injury in the artillery attack.
Meanwhile, the villagers don’t dare to rebuild their houses over concern that the soldiers will soon return.
“We have no place to live, no food to eat. We are now relying on support from nearby villages which haven’t been burnt down,” one villager from Muu Ka Twin told The Irrawaddy.
The homeless villagers are taking shelter in local monasteries and are in urgent need of food supplies, according to the Depyin Refugee Support Group.
Regime troops have torched a total of 3,061 houses in Depayin Township from August 2021 to December 2022, according to the Depayin Township Brothers charity.
An estimated 27,500 houses in Sagaing Region had been burned down, Data For Myanmar reported in November.