WITH the return home of the last villagers from camps in Kyaukme in northern Shan State, built for internally displaced persons, all camps in the town will be officially closed down as of 25 March, said local authorities yesterday.
The remaining villagers are from the villages of Tawt Hsan and Mong Ngot, located in the vicinity of Kyaukme.
They have decided to return back home as there is no fighting in the vicinity of their villages at the moment and the time for the tea crop harvest is coming up, according to volunteers at the camps.
“The remaining funds that were donated to the IDPS project are currently saved at the Ayayawady Bank and they will be spent on rebuilding homes which were destroyed in Tawt Hsan Village,” said U Tin Win, Chairman of the township’s supporting committee for development.
All remaining aid food left at the camps will be distributed to people in confict-afflicted villages, it has been learned.
More than 4,000 IDPs arrived at the town to shelter within camps that were set up at monasteries. The camps came into being on 9 February. At the height of the conflict in northern Shan State over the last few months, there was a total of 22 IDP camps in the township. As of 13 March just 14 IDP camps, which shelter around 1,000 remaining IDPs, are left in Kyaukme Township. Displaced villagers began to arrive after fighting erupted in the surrounding area of Tawt Hsan Village on the morning of 7 February. Fighting broke out between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in early February and has driven local villagers from their homes to seek refuge from the conflict. Local authorities and NGOs are providing them with food and health care services.
The villagers who have returned home mostly live in mountainous regions where they earn their living by cultivating tea crops.
Aung Thant Khaing