December 15, 2016

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3,000 Kyaukme IDPs head home

File photo shows internally displaced persons leaving a camp in Kyaukme. Photo: Aung Thant Khaing
File photo shows internally displaced persons leaving a camp in Kyaukme. Photo: Aung Thant Khaing

THREE quarters of the 4,000 people sheltering in internally displaced persons camps in Kyaukme, northern Shan State, have returned to their villages, according to staff at the IDP camps.
The villagers who have returned home live in mountainous regions where they earn livelihoods from the cultivation of tea. They have decided to make the trip back as fighting has subsided in the vicinity of their villages, and they need to harvest their tea leaf crops while the leaves are still tender.
“We’ve let them return home so they can harvest their tea crops in time. They told us that once their tea crops mature, they become unfit for harvest. They’ve been living with us for a month now, so they feel like it’s time to go home,” said Ko Aung, who works in the donations department of one IDP camp.
The central Kyaukme IDP camp has announced that its provided each returning villager with a bag of rice and K10,000 before giving them a lift to the bus station.
As of March 13, just 14 IDP camps, which shelter over 1,000 remaining IDPs, are left in Kyaukme Township. At the height of the conflict in northern Shan State over the last few months, there were 22 IDP camps in the township.
The remaining villagers are from the villages of Tawt Hsan, Min Kone and Nyaung Maung, located in the vicinity of Kyaukme.
“Since fighting really took place in our villages, we will only return when the heads of the local monastery decide to. We wouldn’t dare return yet. And when we do, there won’t be anything left for us, anyway. Those currently returning home have the luxury of being able to do so because nothing happened in their villages,” said a resident of Tawt Hsan Village.
According to staff from the Kyaukme IDP camps, the first week of March marked one month since displaced villagers started to arrive after fighting erupted in the surrounding area of Tawt Hsan Village on the morning of February 7.—Myitmakha News Agency

Internal displaced people are seen at a camp in Kyaukme.  Photo: Aung Thant Khaing
Internal displaced people are seen at a camp in Kyaukme. Photo: Aung Thant Khaing

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