Myanmar’s Wa army accepts 5,000 refugees back from China

Around 2,000 more are waiting without shelter to cross the border.
By RFA Burmese
2023.11.07
Myanmar’s Wa army accepts 5,000 refugees back from China Refugees re-entering Wa-controlled Nam Tit city through the Chinshwehaw border on Nov. 5, 2023.
Citizen journalist

Around 5,000 people who fled from northern Myanmar into China are being accepted back by an ethnic army, refugees told Radio Free Asia. The United Wa State Army began taking them back on Sunday. 

After allied resistance troops captured three cities in northern Shan state in early November, locals initially fled into Chinese territory. Authorities there provided the group shelter in Yunnan province’s Mengding township in a former COVID-19 testing center, but refugees still struggled to obtain food and water.

The refugees asked to be allowed to enter the Wa-controlled town of Nam Tit through the Chinshwehaw border checkpoint, said Ko Sai, a refugee who stayed in China.

“I have reached Nam Tit city, Wa State. There are about 2,000 left who will come to this side. The Chinese side is not comfortable. They [the authorities] moved us and checked our phones to prevent us from sending information,” he said.

“Refugees walked through the border because they did not have enough food and water. Now some have reached the Wa side.”

Border guards are preventing some Myanmar nationals from entering the country, leaving them to wait at the border without shelter. 

Chinshwehaw is currently under control of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army which is allied with the United Wa State Army, Ko Sai said. Refugees are now allowed to enter in groups and were sent from Chinshwehaw to Nam Tit by vehicles.

The process has already started, said Nyi Rang, the Wa army’s Lashio liaison officer.

“About 5,000 war-torn refugees fleeing to China have already entered our territory in Wa since Sunday, around four or five hundred a day. Sometimes it’s up to a thousand a day coming in like that,” he told RFA.

There are currently more than 25,000 internally displaced people in Nam Tit. Some of them are being sent back to their homes from Keng Tung and Tangyan Roads, which both contain junta checkpoints, Nyi Rang added.

Some residents in Kunlong town are also fleeing to Nam Tit because of intense fighting.

About 15,000 refugees are being accommodated on the border between Laukkaing and China, according to the junta-controlled Kokang Regional Administrative Group’s list as of Monday afternoon. 

Nearly 4,000 refugees are still staying in China’s Mengding city, which borders Chinshwehaw. Some 7,000 people are displaced in Lashio and around 10,000 people are displaced in Theinni.

There are at least 80,000 displaced people across six townships in northern Shan State, in addition to those affected by conflict in Naunghkio, Namtu, Kyaukme, Man Kan, Namhkan and Kunlong, according to groups providing aid to war victims.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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