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Church rushes aid to displaced people in Myanmar conflict

Lashio (UCAN): The local Catholic Church began handing out food on April 9 to villagers displaced by recent conflicts between government troops and soldiers of the Shan State Army North. 

According to the Shan Human Rights Foundation, more than 700 people from the Shan, Lahu and Palaung tribes have found shelter in a Buddhist monastery and in local houses, while another 300 are hiding in the nearby jungle. 

“Atrocities by Myanmese troops in a new military operation against the Shan State Army North have caused more than 1,000 villagers from 16 villages in Tangyan to flee from their homes during the past two weeks,” the group reported on April 5.

“Local social welfare associations and political parties are helping with food, non-food items and healthcare of the displaced villagers, but we still need help for the long-term,” said Sai Hkam Leik, a member of the relief committee in Tangyan.

“So far, these displaced villagers don’t dare to go back to their villages, which are between the government troops and the Shan resistance,” Sai Hkm Leik said.

The diocese of Lashio donated two million kyat ($17,600) toward relief efforts and another one million kyat ($8,800) will come from Karuna National (Caritas Myanmar), according to Nyo Min Than, a coordinator in Lashio. 

“We will take rice, oil and salt, and at the same time we will do a detailed assessment of the displaced there,” Min said, adding that no other aid has reached the area yet, although the World Food Programme is conducting an assessment.

Since February, thousands of Myanmase troops have been deployed to pressure the Shan resistance into withdrawing from territories along the Salween River, near Tangyan.

The foundation claims there have been armed clashes and that government troops have been laying land mines and committing human rights violations against local civilians.

The military is accused of being in breach of the January 2012 ceasefire agreement signed with the Shan State Army North.

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