06/09/2021, 15.37
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UN: more than 100,000 displaced by violence in Kayah State

Refugees are expected to flood into neighbouring countries. Fighting has resumed in Chin State. The conditions of internally displaced persons are extremely precarious while the United Nations fears that the situation may worsen.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar's Kayah State could suffer a “massive” loss of life, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Thomas Andrews said in a statement.

More than 100,000 people have fled their homes to escape conflict, the UN noted, due to the deteriorating security situation in south-east Myanmar.

The conditions of displaced persons are becoming increasingly precarious. Last Sunday, the Myanmar military attacked a Catholic church in the same area.

“The junta's brutal, indiscriminate attacks are threatening the lives of many thousands of men, women and children in Kayah State,” Andrews explained.

If there is no immediate action by the international community, “Mass deaths from starvation, disease, and exposure, on a scale we have not yet seen since the February 1 coup, could occur in Kayah State absent immediate action,” he said.

An activist in Kayah State said that many displaced people could not be reached including in an area east of Demoso, a town about 15 km (9 miles) from the state capital, Loikaw.

“Some people to the east of Demoso have to survive on rice broth as we cannot deliver rice bags to them,” said the activist, who added that military authorities had arrested three people trying to deliver aid in the last two weeks.

Many displaced people have sought refuge in other communities, in nearby forests, and in the neighbouring Shan State, the UN reports.

In addition, “This crisis could push people across international borders seeking safety,” the UN Office in Myanmar warned, like in other parts of the country.

Thailand, which fears a flood of refugees, has expressed its concern about the fighting in Myanmar.

One refugee spoke to Radio Free Asia (RFA) about the situation of displaced people in Chin State, on the border with India. “They are trying to attack our camps in three columns,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We have no more rice supplies,” the source added. “The rainy season is here now, and we need tarpaulins. We fled our homes to get away from the fighting, but now we will have to run again.”

According to data collected by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, a Norwegian NGO, there are at least 500,000 internally displaced persons in Myanmar.

About 40,000 people have left Chin State since May, while 15,000 civilians have crossed the border into the Indian state of Mizoram to escape the fighting.

A spokesman for the Chin Defence Force, a local ethnic militia, told RFA that fighting has been on the rise since last week in the city of Mindat, with residents “fighting back against the military with all available weapons.”

Since Sunday, some 20 militiamen held at a police station in Mindat since the fighting resumed have been denied food.

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