Thousands face food shortage after junta plane bombs camp for displaced people in eastern Myanmar 

A Myanmar military fighter jet bombed a village in Karenni State where displaced people where sheltering in tents in the early hours of Sunday morning, forcing them to flee along with local residents, rescue workers said. 

About 3,000 people fled the attack on Lobarkho village, which sits along the road linking Taungoo in Bago Region to the Karenni capital of Loikaw, when a bomb landed near the village hospital at around 1am, destroying a house. 

No one was injured in the attack, according to a displaced woman who was sheltering in a tent in the village. 

Both she and a local rescue worker told Myanmar Now that there had been no fighting in the area between the junta’s forces and resistance groups. Lobarkho village is 19 miles from Demoso, where there have been fierce clashes recently. 

The internally displaced people (IDPs) who fled Lobarkho are now staying in the forest, and are scared to camp out in the open again in case their settlements become targets for junta aircraft, said the worker from the Karenni State IDP Rescue and Care Network. 

“People are starting to think the military aircraft will drop bombs every time they see green tents,” he told Myanmar Now. “They were staying in temporary tents in the village but they don’t dare to do that anymore.” 

Those who fled left many of their belongings behind and are in urgent need of warm clothes, blankets, and other basics in the forest. 

“They’re in so much trouble right now,” the rescue worker said. “The majority of them couldn’t even bring extra clothes or food. There is going to be a food shortage very soon.” 

As well as targeting civilian IDP camps, the junta was also blocking supply routes to the area, he added. “They’re cutting off one necessity after another to the region. The people are going to starve to death very soon. We need both local and international help as soon as possible,” he said.

Over the weekend his team has also been trying to evacuate nearly 4,000 IDPs from another village in Demoso called Myale because military offensives are edging closer to there, he added. 

Over the past two months, the military has bombed IDP camps five times in the Karenni townships of Hpruso and Demoso, according to local news reports verified by Myanmar Now. At least nine civilians were killed in the bombings.

Karenni, also known as Kayah, has become a stronghold of the armed resistance against the junta since last year’s military coup. The junta has responded with brutal force, often targeting civilians, while cutting of internet and phone services. 

Between February 16 and 21, the Myanmar military launched 21 airstrikes and fired over 500 artillery shells in its bid to crush the resistance in the state, according to the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF). 

The junta’s chief minister for the state, Zaw Myo Tin, said during a meeting in Naypyitaw on February 13 that the military was still trying to stabilise the situation in Demoso and Hpruso, according to a leaked report of the meeting.

Resistance forces in Nan Mei Khon, which was a KNDF stronghold, were forced to retreat from the area when military jets carried out bombings on February 23 and 24.

Two thirds of Karenni’s 300,000 residents have been forced from their homes amid attacks by the military over the past year, according to the Karenni Civil Society Network.

Junta officials could not be reached for comment. Myanmar Now has been unable to contact resistance groups in the area because of the communications blackout. 

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