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Tens of thousands of people displaced on Shan-Karenni border 

More than 20,000 civilians from southern Shan State’s Moebye and Pekhon townships have recently been forced to flee their homes due to ongoing military aggression along the border with Karenni (Kayah) State, several locals said. 

Around half of those displaced were from around 20 villages along the eastern shores of Pekhon Lake. 

The communities were affected by indiscriminate shelling carried out by the Myanmar Army in retaliation for a resistance force attack on a junta outpost in neighbouring Nyaungshwe Township’s Hti Ri village, on May 12. The post was shared by regime forces and members of the Pa-O National Army. 

On Tuesday, 10,000 more people were forced to leave their homes in five wards in Moebye town, which lies opposite two villages hit by military shells—Tsi Mi Lawt and Nyaung Pin Thar—the Kayan Rescue Committee reported.

Junta troops from the base in Nyaungshwe occupied a hill eight miles away in Pekhon Township, just east of the village of Saung Nang Khae, which they torched on Monday. The residents are believed to have fled at the time the fires were set. 

The next day, a local from neighbouring Loi Pann Sone village in Pekhon said that junta shells fired into the community injured two young men—aged 16 and 18—and destroyed a monastery and home. 

Some 200 IDPs who had been sheltering in Loi Pann Sone at the time of the Tuesday morning attack fled with around 500 locals to the Shan State capital of Taunggyi, as well as to communities on the shore of Inle Lake and to other parts of Pekhon Township, the villager from Loi Pann Sone said. 

“No one is left in the village. My father and I are the only ones left nearby. We didn’t want to go far like the others,” he told Myanmar Now. “People could only bring food and water when they fled. They couldn’t bring anything else.”

He said he feared that Loi Pann Sone would be destroyed in the same way as Saung Nang Khae. 

“The only thing I’m worried about is the military setting the village on fire. Firing heavy artillery shells means that they’re clearing the way for their columns, so we don’t know what they’re going to do next,” he explained. 

Mu Muu, a member of the Kayan Rescue Committee, said the civilians fleeing Moebye also had no time to prepare and bring their belongings before fleeing, concerned that the shells that hit the neighbouring villages would also strike the town. 

“They weren’t even able to bring enough food as they had to flee in a hurry. They are currently in need of more food, as well as waterproof tarps to use as shelter when it’s raining,” Mu Muu said. 

As battles have frequently broken out near Moebye since the February 2021 coup, residents have had to leave their homes several times, she explained, but added that they usually returned when there was a pause in the fighting.

Mu Muu said she did not know if or when those who recently fled would be able to come back, but that if they were displaced for a longer period, the existing humanitarian needs in the region would continue to grow.  

“People from the rural areas no longer want to be displaced again as they’ve already had to move so many times. There’s essentially no place left for them to flee, either,” she told Myanmar Now.  

A member of the anti-junta Karenni Nationalities Defence Force said on Wednesday that battles had been ongoing with a junta column located south of Pekhon Lake for two days. 

According to a Karenni Civil Society Network report published on May 11, around 197,000 people from Karenni State have been displaced since the coup. 

A Loi Pann Sone villager injured by the explosion of a heavy artillery shell fired by the military (Supplied)

Junta troops from the base in Nyaungshwe occupied a hill eight miles away in Pekhon Township, just east of the village of Saung Nang Khae, which they torched on Monday. The residents are believed to have fled at the time the fires were set. 

The next day, a local from neighbouring Lwe Pan Khone village in Pekhon said that junta shells fired into the community injured two young men—aged 16 and 18—and destroyed a monastery and home. 

Some 200 IDPs who had been sheltering in Lwe Pan Khone at the time of the Tuesday morning attack fled with around 500 locals to the Shan State capital of Taunggyi, as well as to communities on the shore of Inle Lake and to other parts of Pekhon Township, the villager from Lwe Pan Khone said. 

“No one is left in the village. My father and I are the only ones left nearby. We didn’t want to go far like the others,” he told Myanmar Now. “People could only bring food and water when they fled. They couldn’t bring anything else.”

He said he feared that Lwe Pan Khone would be destroyed in the same way as Saung Nang Khae. 

“The only thing I’m worried about is the military setting the village on fire. Firing heavy artillery shells means that they’re clearing the way for their columns, so we don’t know what they’re going to do next,” he explained. 

Artillery shells fired by the military are photographed in Tsi Mi Lawt village on May 17 (Supplied)

Mu Muu, a member of the Kayan Rescue Committee, said the civilians fleeing Moebye also had no time to prepare and bring their belongings before fleeing, concerned that the shells that hit the neighbouring villages would also strike the town. 

“They weren’t even able to bring enough food as they had to flee in a hurry. They are currently in need of more food, as well as waterproof tarps to use as shelter when it’s raining,” Mu Muu said. 

As battles have frequently broken out near Moebye since the February 2021 coup, residents have had to leave their homes several times, she explained, but added that they usually returned when there was a pause in the fighting.

Mu Muu said she did not know if or when those who recently fled would be able to come back, but that if they were displaced for a longer period, the existing humanitarian needs in the region would continue to grow.  

“People from the rural areas no longer want to be displaced again as they’ve already had to move so many times. There’s essentially no place left for them to flee, either,” she told Myanmar Now.  

A member of the anti-junta Karenni Nationalities Defence Force said on Wednesday that battles had been ongoing with a junta column located south of Pekhon Lake for two days. 

According to a Karenni Civil Society Network report published on May 11, around 197,000 people from Karenni State have been displaced since the coup. 

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