January 21, 2020
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Shan refugees remain wary of returning home

A photo of displaced villagers in Tangyan (Photo: SHRF)
About 30 Shan people who had fled their homes in March due to fighting near Tangyan Township returned to their villages on Thursday, rescue committee members said. However, some 400 displaced Shan villagers remain at a makeshift camp outside the town and are monitoring the situation before committing themselves to returning home.

The refugees returned during a lull in hostilities between Myanmar government forces and the Shan State Army - North (SSPP/SSA) in northern Shan State.

“The battles have ceased,” said Ko Sai Lu, a committee member at the camp and a spokesperson for the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party. “The government forces have told us they will guarantee security and requested us to go home.”

Ko Sai Lu said the displaced persons were from the villages of Loilem and Loisay in Tangyan Township.

However, he said, although the hostilities have ended, the Myanmar army remains active in the area, and many villagers are afraid of the troops and of landmines, and are very wary about returning.

Another camp committee member suggested to Mizzima that many villagers were afraid they would be forcefully recruited by the government forces if they returned.

The Tangyan township administrative office has arranged for cars to take any refugees back to their home towns. Camp officials said on Thursday that although the displaced persons had received help from Buddhist monks, the Tangyan youth league and members of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy from nearby Lashio, they only have rice and food rations to last another seven days.

Related articles:
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  2. Shan army told to make way for Salween Dam
  3. Govt troops still abuse villagers, says Shan NGO

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