Conflicts & War

Conflict displaces some 120,000 people in Myanmar since coup

Bangkok, May 28 (EFE).- Some 120,000 people throughout Myanmar have been displaced from their homes by the fighting between the military and various ethnic armed organizations since the military coup on Feb. 1, according to United Nations data.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) points out in its latest update the urgent need for basic necessities, such as food, aid, medicine and shelter for thousands of people trapped in conflict areas.

The clashes that began in April and continue between the military and the Karenni Army rebels together with groups of armed civilians, in eastern Kayah state, have forced around 46,000 people to take refuge in the jungle and internal camps for displaced persons.

The military this week sent reinforcements to the region after at least 40 soldiers lost their lives last Sunday in the assault by dissident fighters against a police station and a military convoy.

In the southeastern state of Karen, the military has encountered fierce opposition from the Karen National Liberation Army since the coup, whose fighting keeps 45,000 people displaced, according to data collected by UNHCR.

In Chin state, bordering India, some 9,000 people have fled, the vast majority from the city of Mindat, where soldiers fired heavy artillery during the siege mid-month to defeat the Chinland Defense Force.

In addition, 8,500 people remain displaced since March by fighting in Kachin state (north), while another 8,400 are in refugee camps in Shan state (northwest) as a result of clashes between the military, supported by local groups, and rebel forces.

Displaced persons are also registered, although in smaller numbers, in southern Mon state and the central region of Bago.

Greater autonomy is the primary demand of almost all ethnic militias, including the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kokang, Kayah, Mon, Rakhine, Shan and Wa, who together account for more than 30 percent of the country’s 54 million people.

Many of these ethnic guerrillas have voiced their rejection of the military uprising that overthrew the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and ended the incipient democracy in Myanmar.

At least 831 people have died since the coup as a result of the security forces crackdown against peaceful demonstrations, according to latest figures from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners.

The military justifies its coup alleging fraud in the November election, in which Suu Kyi’s party won by a landslide, and which have the backing of international observers. EFE


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