More than 6,600 people have been newly displaced by renewed fighting and rising military tensions over recent weeks in three Arakan State townships and Chin State’s Paletwa Township, according to volunteers helping those displaced.
More than 600 people in Maungdaw Township, over 3,000 in Rathedaung Township, around 1,800 in Mrauk-U Township and 1,250 people in Paletwa Township have been forced from their homes.
Some villagers are taking shelter at monasteries and with their relatives in Maungdaw town. About 450 of the internally displaced people (IDPs) are sheltering in Paletwa town, some 200 are in Kyauktaw town and approximately 600 refugees have fled to the neighbouring Indian state of Mizoram.
The actual number of displaced people could be higher due to difficulties associated with counting their numbers, according to civil society organisations helping the IDPs.
Daw Aye Mya Sein from Yan Aung Pyin village said she had fled because Myanmar’s military regime was conducting aerial assaults involving gunships along Mt. Wailar, as well as targeting an AA-occupied junta outpost near Milepost No. 40 on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
“We saw aircraft flying, and there have also been frequent artillery strikes. So, we were concerned that we would be killed or harmed if artillery shells accidentally landed in our village,” she said.
Meanwhile, residents from at least seven villages in Rathedaung Township have fled their homes following fighting between the military and the AA in the last week of August. They are currently sheltering in other villages, and in Rathedaung town.
There are 856 IDPs including the newly displaced villagers taking shelter in Zedi Pyin village, according to Ko Aung Min Soe, who works for a local charity.
“They need mosquito nets, and we have asked donors. They mainly need food. We have difficulties buying food as roads are blocked off. We only have two days’ worth of rice for them now,” he said.
In Mrauk-U Township, uprooted residents of Kin Seik village and its vicinity have left their homes behind despite no signs of active conflict in the area.
“They are not in the war zone,” explained a Mrauk-U resident helping the IDPs. “They have fled because of the regime’s indiscriminate shelling. In the case of the fatal shelling in Kin Seik village, there was no fighting. Locals were frightened once they heard shelling, so they fled.”
Three people, including a 4-year-old boy, were killed and eight others were injured when several junta artillery shells landed in and around Kin Seik village on August 28. Fighting between the military and Arakan Army occurred earlier that day in Lekka village, but no hostilities were reported at Kin Seik village before, during or after the artillery barrage.
DMG has not been able to contact junta spokesman Major-General Zaw Min Tun and Arakan State Security and Border Affairs Minister Colonel Kyaw Thura for comment.
Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army reached an informal ceasefire agreement ahead of the country’s November 2020 general election, after some two years of often-intense fighting in Arakan State and neighbouring Paletwa Township, Chin State. But the peace pact has verged on total collapse for weeks amid months of escalating military tensions and a series of clashes between the two sides across multiple Arakan State townships, and in Paletwa Township.