After blocking rice sales to Paletwa township, the Myanmar Army is allowing limited amounts to be transported from Rakhine State into southern Chin State under strict conditions.
Merchants can carry up to 20 bags but only after they apply for permission from local authorities.
“Ward administration authorities are issuing papers for transporting rice,” said a merchant. “We can’t carry many bags. We buy the rice in Kyauktaw township in Rakhine State and then sell it in Paletwa township, in Chin State.”
Paletwa township depends on rice purchases from Rakhine State that are transported by boat. But the Tatmadaw blocked it in early May to try to starve out the Arakan Army (AA) that it’s fighting with in Paletwa township.
Consequently, the township has faced a rice shortage, causing shops to shutter because they have nothing to sell.
“Now we can bring rice from Kyauktaw to Paletwa by boat. I think the situation has improved a little bit,” said Wai Tang, from Paletwa Social Association.
The rice blockage has been especially hard on villagers displaced by the conflict that has escalated since the start of this year after AA launched several attacks on police outposts in Rakhine State.
The fighting between the groups have forced thousands from their homes and they are now sheltering in camps in the township.
In a couple of days, AA will meet with representatives of the government’s peace team, the Army and the Northern Alliance, which it is a member of, to discuss a bilateral ceasefire.