January 22, 2024
Since the 2021 coup the growing intensity of the Junta’s battles with the Karen resistance has spawned and ever- growing displacement of villagers now totaling over 700,000 IDPs who have fled from artillery fire and aerial bombardment in the seven districts of the Kawthoolei region, under the control of the Karen National Union (KNU).
As per a statement from KNU on January 18th, Nyaunglebin District under the jurisdiction of KNU’s 3rd Brigade reports the highest number of war-displaced people at 248,160 followed by Dooplaya District, under the control of 6th Brigade, with the second-highest count at 149,969.
The surge in the number of war-displaced individuals is attributed to intensified conflict in Kawkareik and Mone townships, resulting from the offensive operations conducted by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of KNU, against the Military Council at the end of 2023. Karen aid organizations emphasize that the much-needed assistance for the displaced population remains inadequately supported.
“We are doing our utmost to aid the displaced individuals and engage the international community for support, but the practical assistance we can offer remains limited. The war-displaced population has now exceeded 700,000, with needs extending beyond food to include essential requirements such as accommodation, resettlement, and opportunities for livelihood”, Saw Khe Lay, deputy head of the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) told KIC.
Saw Khe Lay said that based on meticulously gathered statistics from CIDKP, there are over 752,000 war-displaced individuals in the Kawthoolei region currently, with half of them still lacking adequate support.
“Regrettably among the 700,000 individuals, our support doesn’t reach even half of them consistently. Assistance for the remaining half occurs intermittently, approximately every four or five months. Numerous needs still persist within our capacity”, he explained.
The continuous rise in the count of displaced individuals in Kawthoolei can be attributed to the Junta targeting civilians as if they were military targets, employing airstrikes, shelling, and resorting to various forms of violence against the local population, according to KNU’s statement.
Amidst the ongoing clashes in the region and the Military Council’s arson attacks, residents not only endure the hardships of displacement but also grapple with livelihood crises, further exacerbated by the looming insecurity that poses potentially fatal risks during conflicts, locals said.
Almost three years since the coup, the number of war-displaced individuals in the Kawthoolei region has risen to 143,529 in Thaton District, the territory of the 1st Brigade, 20,152 in the 2nd Brigade’s Tawoo District 75,185 in the 4th Brigade’s Myeik-Dawei District, 91.603 in the 5th Brigade’s Mutraw District, and 22,981 in the 7th Brigade’s Hpa-An District.
News-Than Lwin Times