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Palaung Women’s Organization: Women bear burden of displacement

5 November 2012

Press release: Burmese (pdf)
Report: English

Fighting between the Burma Army andKachin Independence Army, Shan State Army–North and Ta’ang National Liberation Army have forced over 2,000 villagers to flee

 

Worsening conflict and abuses by Burmese government troops in northern Shan State have displaced several thousand Palaung villagers, mainly women and children, who are in critical need of humanitarian aid, according to a new report by the Palaung Women’s Organisation (PWO).

The Burden of War,” based on interviews with women in three IDP settlements in Manton and Namkham townships, describes the abuses that drove them from their homes, their perilous journey through the jungle and living conditions in the camps, where over 1,000 IDPs from fifteen villages are sheltering.

Left alone by husbands fleeing conscription as porters and soldiers, mothers had trekked for days with their children through the mountains to avoid Burmese army patrols and landmines. Pregnant women suffered miscarriage, and the elderly were left behind.

Living conditions are worst at the most remote IDP site, in the mountains north of Manton, where little aid has reached over 500 IDPs. Mothers are struggling to feed their families on loans of rice from local villagers. Some have been driven to leave their children with relatives to seek work in China.

Women describe fleeing from looting, torturing and killing by Burmese government troops in operations against Kachin, Palaung and Shan resistance forces. Sixteen Burmese battalions have been deployed in Palaung areas to secure investments such as China’s trans-Burma oil and gas pipelines.

“The reforms in Burma mean nothing for Palaung villagers on the ground,” said PWO researcher, Lway Poe Ngeal. “The war in our areas has worsened under the new government.”

With new fighting displacing a further 500 Palaung villagers in Mansi and Kutkhai townships in the past week, PWO is calling urgently for aid to the IDPs, and for pressure on Burma’s government to end its military offensives and abuses, and begin meaningful political dialogue with opposition forces.