Refugees Running Out of Rice in Lower Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 23 February 2022

Refugees burned out of their houses in Kayah State by junta forces are facing food shortages as little humanitarian aid is reaching them.

170,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Kayah in southeast Myanmar, with clashes taking place almost daily in and around the town of Moebye and in Pekon Township, according to the Karenni Human Rights Group, which is helping the refugees.

Banya, the Director of the Karenni Human Rights Group, told The Irrawaddy that even the camps that have received rice from the Save the Children organization will soon run out. Other refugee camps are already facing food shortages. There are now around 100 camps for the internally displaced in Kayah.

Save the Children halted their humanitarian operation in Kayah State after two members of the organization were killed by the Myanmar military in Hpruso Township on December 24, 2021. Their bodies were subsequently burned.

Refugees from Pekon Township displaced after junta forces burned down their villages on February 18./ Kayan Rescue Committee-KRC

“I am very worried about this situation. If the United Nations continues to ignore us, many people will be starving and facing malnutrition within three months,” said Banya, who asked to be identified by only one of his names.

He added that the refugees also face difficulties in finding shelter, water, medicine and fuel for electricity generators.

Currently, internally displaced people in Kayah State are dependent for food and aid on local civil society organizations, donations from Karenni people living abroad and elsewhere in Myanmar.

“The number of old people dying in the camps is increasing. More and more of the old people are suffering strokes because of the poor living conditions,” said Banya.

Around 600 military regime soldiers from No. 66 Division, No. 55 Division and No. 99 Division are continuing their operations in War Yi Phu Pha Lai and Wi Thae Ku villages near Moebye. Villagers who stayed rather than fleeing are being tortured and killed and used as human shields, according to resistance groups.

One resistance fighter told The Irrawaddy that villagers are being tortured and killed at War Yi Phu Pha Lai Village, but they cannot do anything because junta forces are based at the village.
“When I looked at the village with binoculars, I saw one villager handcuffed with his head hanging down. I think he is dead”, the fighter said.
Over 70 houses in War Yi Phu Pha Lai, a village of 400 houses, were burned down by junta troops on February 17 and 18, according to the Kayan Rescue Committee.

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