More than 10,000 residents of Moebye in southern Shan State have been displaced by fighting between Myanmar’s junta and resistance groups, including the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), according to civil society organizations.
Moebye borders the anti-regime stronghold of Kayah State.
No fighting has been reported in the town since September 28 but daily clashes are breaking out in rural areas and forests. The area has a population of over 26,000 people, of which three-fifths live in the town.
Khu Re Du, the KNDF’s liaison officer, said Moebye has one of the main routes into Kayah State for the regime to resupply its troops and send reinforcements.
The junta is establishing defensive positions in the town to maintain control, said residents.
Khun Myo Aung Aung, leader of the Moebye Rescue Team, said: “Residents won’t return as they fear landmines and more clashes breaking out.”
Residents need food and other essentials as roads are blocked. Junta troops have detained at least 30 men, using them as forced labor and human shields in the two-thirds of the town in regime-control, he said.
Regime engineering troops are repairing the power grid and pylons destroyed by resistance forces in recent months.
“Lawpita hydropower station helps powers Naypyitaw and Kalaw in Shan State. Troops are repairing the grid,” said a resident.
Moebye’s farmers mainly grow rice, corn and peanuts but are unable to harvest their crops because of the fighting.
“If the fighting continues we will not be able to harvest anything and it will all have gone to waste. We have to prepare for the dry season crops. This is really damaging our lives,” a farmer said.
More than 10,000 displaced residents are sheltering in monasteries and with relatives and friends.
At least 13 people were killed and 23 injured in Moebye and Kayah State by junta landmines, killings and shelling in September, according to the KNDF.
Four displaced civilians, including two children, were killed on September 16 when a junta shell hit a temple in Moebye.