Some 2,000 bags of rice arrived in Paletwa this week after being sent by the World Food Program (WFP) to feed internally displaced persons (IDPs) after an ongoing food shortage in the southern Chin State township.
Chin State government spokesperson and municipal minister Soe Htet said that the rice delivery had arrived in the town of Paletwa on Sunday, and more rice from Burma’s Red Cross had been transported from Pakokku in Magwe Region.
He added that these organizations would observe the situation on the ground in the neighboring town of Sami to determine the assistance needed by IDPs there, and would do the same in Paletwa in December.
Some 4,000 bags of rice remain in Sami and will be sent on to Paletwa, Soe Htet said.
Like IDPs, locals in Paletwa also are struggling with food shortages due to Burmese military road blockages to the township.
“In the past, we provided rice to local people in Paletwa, too. We are unable to provide rice to these people all the time. That’s why we bought rice from Pakokku and sold it here,” Soe Htet told Khonumthung News.
He explained that the government sold the rice at a loss at 30,000 kyats (US$23) per bag, covering some of the transportation costs of bringing it to southern Chin State from the Magwe Region. The current price of unsubsidized rice in the Paletwa market is now 60,000 kyat ($46), compared with 25,000 ($19.25) in Pakokku.
Aung Ma Phyu, who is volunteering with IDPs in Paletwa, said that while the immediate needs for rice have been met, IDPs are still in urgent need of winter clothing.
“Winter is coming. It will be so cold here by the end of this month. IDPs still need warm clothing and blankets. At the moment, no organization has come to donate these things,” she said.
There are more than 4,800 IDPs staying in Paletwa town, 3,300 in the town of Sami, more than 500 in Meezar village, and more than 200 in Seint Sin village. They were displaced by clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in Paletwa Township.