People living in a remote part of southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township are facing severe food shortages due to restrictions on the transport of rice from neighboring Rakhine State, where the Burma Army and the insurgent Arakan Army (AA) are engaged in ongoing clashes.
Local people from the Lay Myo Myit area of Paletwa normally transport rice from Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U and Minbya townships by boat. Now, however, boats can only carry two bags at a time, making it difficult for local rice sellers to meet demand.
“We can’t travel freely to Rakhine State and we are are only allowed to carry two bags of rice per boat, so people can’t buy as much rice as they want from the rice shops. I don’t know who controls it. It takes seven gallons of petrol to go from here to Rakhine State by boat, so it’s not good for us,” said a resident of Than Htawng, a village in the Lay Myo Myit area.
It is unclear who controls the transport of rice in this area. There have been reports that AA forces have been seizing rice from boats carrying more than two bags.
However, AA information officer Khine
Thukha denied these reports and blamed the Burma Army’s “four cuts” strategy,
which aims to deprive the AA of food and other essentials, for the restrictions.
“It’s a baseless accusation. The Burma Army and the government are restricting how much rice can be transported as part of its four cuts military operations. It has nothing to do with us. We want our local people to have enough rice and other foodstuffs. It’s the Burma Army that is doing this,” he told Khonumthung News.
People in the villages of Lin Tai, Kyauk Hkawng, Kar Rakin, Khwe Kawng, Than Htaung, Kho Peshay, Ah Lae Tein King, Wah Chaung and Wetmauk Chaung in the Lay Myo Myit area are currently facing severe rice shortages.
Not only local people but also the staffs of the religious affairs and education departments, including teachers, are not getting enough rice. A local said this situation could lead to the closure of schools in the area.
“We cannot afford to provide food to teachers. They don’t have enough to eat, so it may be necessary to close the schools,” the local told Khonumthung News.
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