Naypyidaw: Almost 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to fighting between government forces and ethnic rebels in Myanmar’s Shan state near the Chinese border, with about 40,000 people being displaced in the northwest of the country, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Friday.
The conflict reportedly stems from efforts by the country’s armed forces to stop illegal drug trafficking and ammunition manufacturing businesses controlled by armed ethnic groups operating in the Kokang region in Shan. On October 27, these groups attacked government forces stationed in the region.
“As of 9 November, almost 50,000 people in northern Shan were forced into displacement in religious compounds with relatives. Many have also moved towards the border with China and others are still trying to cross,” OCHA said in a situation report.
Intense fighting continues in several communities in northern Shan, including artillery shelling and airstrikes, according to the statement.
OCHA also said that telephone and internet services in the Lashio township had been disrupted, and the area’s main airport was closed, hampering the movement of people and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
“Fighting has also escalated in the Northwest in early November. About 40,000 people have been subsequently displaced due to active fighting in the Northwest,” the report read.
After Myanmar gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, the central authorities and military groups of ethnic minorities waged a civil war in the country until the 1990s. Experts believe that a new escalation of the civil war has been taking place since the military grabbed power in Myanmar in February 2021.