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Displaced villagers continue to struggle in Tavoy District

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BY  Mehn Oa: Villagers fleeing abuse at the hands of Burmese military battalions in Tenasserim Division and Tavoy District’s Khaw zar sub-Township are encountering a new host of problems after taking refuge in New Mon State Party (NMSP)-controlled territory in Tavoy District.

The residents of Tavoy Districts Jao Dein village, where the vast majority of the 200-plus displaced villagers have taken refuge, claim that that they lack sufficient food, educational facilities, and medical care to see to the need’s of the village’s newest residents.

According to Kaowao newsgroup on March 11th of this year, during the first week of March 2010, over 200 villagers from Tenasserim Division’s Yebyu Township fled to NMSP-controlled area, in order to escape forced militia training at the hands of Burmese Light Infantry Battalions (LIB) No. 282 and 273; IMNA has received information that similar abuses committed by Infantry Battalion No. 31, in the village of Mi Htaw Hlar in Tavoy District’s Khwa zar sub-Township have prompted village residents to find shelter in NMSP area as well.

Currently, IMNA’s sources report that well over 200 villagers from Mi Htaw Hlar, and the Yebyu villages of Kyauktalin, Kyaukkatin, Alaesakhan, Paukpinkwin have taken up residence in and around the small 200-household village of Jao Dein and pala tha rao, in Tavoy District. Unfortunately, the residents of Jao Dein earn their survival through highland rice cultivation, and many reported to IMNA that this means of existence simply does not yield enough rice to share with the newcomers.

“The people who have arrived in our village, we can only help them find shelter, because in our village, we have no more food to help them, but we try to help them while they are having these problem [no jobs or shelter], however we cannot give them food. We can help them with housing, and our village headman has plans to build houses for them” a villager from that area explained.

According to reports, Jao Dein’s village headman has spearheaded efforts to provide aid to the displaced villagers that have arrived in his village, as well as those who continue to straggle in. Jao Dein villagers have been entreated to open their homes up to the new arrivals, and plans have been made to begin construction on temporary shelters. Long-term plans, to provide the displaced villagers with highland gardens and paddy farms, are also being discussed.

“We can help just with giving shelter in our village, because we do not have enough food for them, but now we are trying to build some houses for them. We will try to save all of the people who left from their villages,” a village headman informed IMNA.

Pleas for assistance resulted in small donations of rice from a local Mon party, who asked that its name be concealed for political reasons. However, a newly arrived former resident of Mi Htaw Hlar reported to IMNA that food remains scarce, and that the small size of Jan Dein has resulted in shortages of other services and educational opportunities.

“We have no homes, no more food, and no school for our children to attend. Now the village headman is helping use by asking villagers to let us live in their homes, with their families. The village headman has made plans to provide all of the people who have arrived in his village with shelter, but the villagers can’t give us food. We still have problems getting food,” he told IMNA.

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