Rakhine fighting ends but villagers continue to flee

Refugees arrive in Ngasaraikai, Kyauktaw Township, on May 5 (Photo-EMG)

More villagers have fled their homes in Rakhine State although fighting between government forces and rebels appears to have ended. They say they are too scared to go out of their villages and make a living.

Around 36 Ginbi villagers in Ponnakyun Township joined other refugees sheltering in Ngasaraikai village, Kyauktaw Township, on May 5 as their village was near recent battle sites and they could not make a living.

“We’re from Ginbi. We mostly live by cutting down bamboo and cane in the forest. We no don't dare go out. We reached Kyauksetaung village in the evening but no one was there. And we reached here. We have no contact with the villages above and know nothing about them. But there is no more shooting. If we cannot go into the forests to make a living, we will starve,” said Maung Hla Tun.

“Four families are sheltering in Thaluchaung village and 156 people from two villages went to Pinnyawa village. Around 200 people from Kyauksetaung are in Ngasaraikai. Ten more families from Ginbi arrived,” said Aung Hla Sein, the Thaluchaung village head.

“We fled our homes more than a week ago. Donors offered assistance to us and there is also a clinic here. But we want to return to our village. We had to leave our livestock. But I think we will have to stay here longer,” said U Saw, a 37-year-old refugee.

Unconfirmed reports say there are more than 400 refugees taking shelter in the area.