Villagers Forced to Flee During Ceasefire Period

By Nyein Nyein 3 January 2019

YANGON—Over 300 locals from four villages in Namtu Township, northern Shan State are taking refuge at the nearby village of Mansan due to the interethnic fighting between armed groups based in the area this week.

Amid fighting which has been taking place some 16 kilometers (10 miles) away from Namtu since Dec. 31, 316 people fled to Mansan Village on Jan. 1 and 2 and they are now taking shelter at the monastery, said U Khin Maung Kyi, Mansan’s village administrator.

The fighting broke out between troops of Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army South (RCSS/SSAS) and the combined forces of Shan State Progressive Party/ Shan State Army North (SSPP/SSAN) and Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army (TNLA), according to the local residents.

Shan State is one of the regions covered by the Myanmar Army’s four-month truce announced Dec. 22, but the residents of villages in Namtu Township are unable to enjoy safety or peace during the ceasefire period. For the past few years, they have frequently had to flee from their homes while clashes took place near their villages, returning only after the troops left.

The people lack security and protection as always, said Nang Kham Aye, the Lower House lawmaker representing Namtu Township.

“I got calls from the people of Manwah Village where the fighting was happening on Wednesday, and they said they were hiding in their own bunkers. They have not yet arrived to a safe place,” she told The Irrawaddy.

Villagers from a number of other villages where a few dozen locals live in Namtu Township have not yet left their homes.

RCSS spokesman Sai Meng said the brief skirmish between their troops and the alliance troops in the area did not cause any casualties.