Thousands of civilians remain trapped after attempting to flee their homes amid clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Army around Tanai township.
Over 4,000 civilians are currently stuck in Deik Hpar (Daihpa) Village near Ledo road after the Tatmadaw reportedly blocked their exit. Civilians had initially attempted to escape to Tanai town via waterways and roads, but finding those avenues blocked, some took recourse through smuggling routes.
About 1,000 displaced persons are currently taking shelter in Tanai town where authorities have reportedly barred IDP camps from opening. Instead, the families have sought shelter in churches. However, authorities ordered IDPs to relocate to Kawng Ra Village, a sort of no man’s land between the fighting.
A mother and two children were reportedly injured when artillery hit Nawng Lon Kawng Ra Village around 12:30 am on June 5. Local residents fled to Ting Kawk and Tanai after the village was shelled.
“They [the Tatmadaw] have blocked the direct road used to flee to Tanai. The military officials are driving IDPs away from Tanai. I see this as a clear attempt to cause trouble for the Kachin people,” said Reverend Hkalam Samson, general secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC).
An official from Tanai Baptist Church said many civilians continue to be trapped near the skirmish area.
“There are still many people who have been unable to flee. Even the members of Sut Chyai Mine Area Church from Sambra, Oi Law, and N’grau Hkrat villages haven’t been able to come out yet. There are still many people from the amber mines who are unable to leave. The people who have arrived in Tanai were only able to leave via smuggling routes,” said the official.
Fighting escalated around the gold and amber mines starting on June 3.
Two days after the fighting broke out, an eviction notice was airdropped, instructing civilians to leave the area before June 15 or face the consequences of being considered allies of the KIA. But when civilians tried to follow the instructions, they found the only exit road blocked.