Thousands of Villagers Flee Fighting and Seek Refuge in Samee

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More than 2,000 locals have fled clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army (AA) in Paletwa Township in southern Chin State and are seeking refuge in the town of Samee.

Government and AA troops have been engaged in intensifying clashes along the Mee Chaung River in Paletwa since March 16.

According to the local People Hope Organization, there are now 2,265 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Samee. Civil society organizations in the area say that the IDPs are in need of emergency aid supplies, including basic foods such as rice, cooking oil and salt.

“The Chin State government has provided 100 bags of rice. I am expecting that we will need to provide them with 40 bags of rice per day,” Zaw Lee Aung, who is working with the People Hope Organization, told Khonumthung News, adding that wholesale shops are out of rice. “We have problems with water as well as with electricity. We need drinking water. We cannot buy waterproof canvases for the toilet. We don’t have firewood for cooking. Youth are trying to find firewood. They need many things,” he said of the IDPs.

Among the people seeking refuge in Samee’s monastery, church, middle school, and public halls are 24 pregnant women, and more than 700 children under age 15.

On March 14 and 15, at least 21 civilians were killed and 28 injured in air strikes by the Burma Army on the villages of Meik Sawa, Wetma and Pyine Tain.

Locals in the area are concerned about their security and continued clashes. More people around Paletwa and Samee are expected to flee in the coming days and weeks if the current fighting remains ongoing.

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