Newborn baby dies of cold after mother fleeing army attacks takes shelter in forest

A six-day-old baby has died after catching a cold because of a lack of shelter, blankets, and medical supplies at a camp for people displaced by fighting in southern Shan State, a relative has said. 

The baby’s mother was among a group sleeping under tarpaulin sheets in the forest in Pekhon after fleeing attacks by the military. 

“He caught a cold because there was so much heavy rain,” said the relative, who requested anonymity. “He was fine for the first few days after the birth, he was well breast-fed.”

The baby was born after the family relocated from the Sacred Heart church in Pekhon when it was attacked by the military with artillery shells late last month, forcing IDPs staying there to seek shelter elsewhere. 

The new makeshift camp they are staying in is badly undersupplied, the relative said. “It’s been pretty foggy and rainy. There aren’t enough blankets at the camp. We’re trying to get them,” he said.

Other IDP camps in the state are also short of shelters, medicine and drinking water, said a woman who was also among those displaced. 

“The main difficulty is the drinking water,” she said. “And there’s always 30 people queuing for one bathroom. Some donors have given medical supplies but they’re not varied. Just cough drops and stomach ache pills.” 

There was no medicine for people suffering conditions including arthritis and cancer, she added.

The military has killed people who tried to return to their villages to collect rations, she said. 

On Friday soldiers set fire to food rations, including 80 bags of rice and 150 gallons of cooking oil, at Lwal Yin village, one of the areas from which people have fled. They also burned medical supplies, an ambulance, and another vehicle. 

Also last week, soldiers at a toll gate in Yangon confiscated over 3 million kyat worth of medical supplies and 1,000 raincoats that had been donated to IDPs, a donor told Myanmar Now. 

Another baby, who was just a few months old, died from a fever at an IDP camp in a forest in Kayah State on May 29, said the Progessive Karenni People Force (PKPF), a local volunteer organisation. 

More than 100,000 have been displaced amid clashes between armed local resistance fighters and the military in Kayah State and southern Shan State in recent months. 

The military has also repeatedly attacked civilians and civilian targets in the area, killing about 50 people, the PKPF said. 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned on Friday of “imminent further bloodshed and suffering” in Kayah and Chin State, where armed locals are also resisting military rule. 


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