FBR REPORT: More than 5,000 IDPs on the run from the Burma Army in Arakan State, 100,000 villagers suffer from food shortages.
Arakan State and southern Chin State, Burma
31 August, 2009

  • More than 5,000 IDPs are on the run from the Burma Army in Arakan State and southern Chin State, while over 100,000 villagers suffer from food shortages.

More than 5,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are living a life on the run in the jungles along the border of Arakan State and in southern Chin State in western Burma, according to a recent report by FBR teams on the ground there. In addition to these 5,000 IDPs, more than 100,000 villagers are suffering from the ongoing famine that stretches through both northern Arakan State and into Chin State.


Map showing affected townships (click for larger image)

Isolated from most international aid providers, the people here have little access to medical aid, food relief, or any other assistance typically provided in crisis areas. Free Burma Ranger relief teams are one of the few providers of medical aid in this area. Since the onset of the food shortage, caused by the ongoing infestation of rats that attack the rice crops, the price of rice has shot up from 5 rupees per kilogram (about $0.10 USD) to 32 rupees/kg ($0.67USD). This crisis, relentless for the last three years, is leading to the unraveling of the social fabric of life, with increases in incidences of robbery and kidnapping as well as poaching of wild animals, including elephants, tigers, and buffalo. Additionally, our teams report an increase in the production of opium as the people become increasingly desperate for cash crops.


An internally displaced Arakan family
A group of internally displaced children.

Far from trying to help the suffering people, the Burma Army in the area requisitions taxes in the form of livestock and forced labor, as well as annexing land at will. In Arpountwa Village, Kyauk Taw Township, the Burma Army annexed two hundreds acres of paddy farm without any payment to build an artillery battalion. When Battalion 375 moved from Nyaung Ban Hla Village, Kyauk Taw Township, to Paneyechawn Village in the same township, they annexed more than 120 acres of paddy farm without payment. They also did not return the land that had been stolen in Nyaung Ban Hla Village to accommodate their original location, keeping this as an army-controlled farm.


A patient diagnosed with diarrhea.
A Free Burma Ranger medic treating a typhoid patient.

Free Burma Ranger teams are one of the few medical providers in much of this area. FBR teams treated 224 patients for sicknesses including diarrhea, malaria, gastritis, fungal conditions, beri beri, and anemia. They also reported the closure of hundreds of schools as the local communities could neither pay teachers, nor pay student fees.