Army Chief Visits Hakha, Food Crisis Looms Over Paletwa

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When Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing, commander in chief of the Burma Army, paid a special visit to Hakha on Wednesday, Chin elders demanded the army chief do something about the food crisis affecting Paletwa township in southern Chin State.

Conflict between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in southern Chin and northern Rakhine states has intensified in recent weeks, cutting off food transportation lines to Paletwa township.

It has been over a month since boats from Kyauktaw township, in northern Rakhine State, brought food and other important rations across the river to Paletwa township.

Paletwa township depends on rice, salt, cooking oil and other products from Rakhine State. With the river blocked by clashes, many residents already experiencing food insecurity could soon be starving if things don’t improve.

Markets stalls are empty. Prices of food still available have skyrocketed. A bag of rice that used to cost 20,000 kyat (US$14.48) is now 100,000 kyat (US$72.41), a viss (1.63 kg) of onion costs 10,000 kyat (US$7.24) and a viss of dried chili costs 20,000 kyat.

Sheng Mang, the chairperson of the elders association in Hakha, told Khonumthung News when they met Min Aung Hlaing in Hakha city hall they talked about the crisis in Paletwa township. “He said they are working hard to resolve all of these issues,” Sheng Mang said.

The army chief also visited Northwestern Military Command headquarters in Kalay town, in Sagaing, and the Regional Battalion headquarters in Tedim.

Meanwhile in Paletwa, an emergency meeting was held to discuss reopening transportation links to the beleaguered town. Civil society organisations, religious leaders and elders were in attendance.

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