After Months Without Food Aid, Paletwa IDPs Struggle With Rice Shortage

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Internally displaced people (IDPs) in Meezar village in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township are facing a shortage of rice due to ongoing clashes in the area between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army.

Civil society organizations, religious groups and the government used to provide rice to the IDPs, but for the last two months have been unable to send the food aid, locals said. As a result, IDPs have had to take on day labor—when available—to be able to buy food.

“We have been here in Meezar for more than a year. NGOs used to provide assistance to us. We haven’t gotten any assistance in recent months,” a displaced man in Meezar, who was previously the headman of Konpyin village, told Khonumthung News. “We still don’t have our own rotating farmland. So we have to work as daily wage laborers. The major problem for us is the rice shortage.”

More than 600 IDPs from the villages of Konpyin, King-talin, Petawng, Yin-Khan-Wa and Set-Hlaing-Wa sought refuge in Meezar in 2018.

With assistance from the Chin State government, more than 100 people from 20 families from King-Talin and Petawng villages were relocated to Thekee village, the home community of Burma’s vice president Henry Van Thio. Because of that, around 500 people remain in Meezar village and are struggling with a lack of food.

According to the former Konpyin village headman, the Paletwa town interfaith association currently has 100 bags of rice ready to give to IDPs in Meezar, but is unable to transport them because of security risks.

Hawi Lou, an administrator of Meezer village tract, cited the presence of Arakan Army soldiers in Kyeelay village, between Paletwa town and Meezar, as a reason for avoiding the area.

“Not only IDPs, but local people are also facing a rice shortage because people are not allowed to bring rice here. That’s why we are facing a rice shortage,” he explained. Hawi Lou added that he was worried that the Arakan Army troops in Kyeelay would take rice that they attempted to transport into Meezar.

The administrator said that they had tried to buy rice from another village—Htarong-Ai—but that that area also was facing a shortage.

“I think we will face many hardships in the long term,” the former headman of Konpyin village told Khonumthung News of the IDPs’ future.

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