Over 3000 villagers from 30 villages under Min Bya township, 50 miles away from Arakanese capital city of Sittwe, are presently facing acute shortage of essential commodities like food and medicines after Myanmar Army personnel barred the dwellers from traveling, said U HlaThein Aung, a member Rakhine (Arakan) state parliament representing Min Bya township.
“I along with few other parliamentarians went to the affected areas and found that villagers were facing shortage of food and medicines. But the security forces did not allow us to meet the villagers. An army camp at Let Khoke village prevented us from going into the affected villages,” claimed U Hla Thein Aung.
According to local villagers, the security forces barred the residents from traveling outside Let Khoke village since 4 August soon after several clashes broke out in the area with the rebels of Arakan Army.
Daw Soe Chay, an elderly woman of Kyauk Maw village informed that they were facing shortage of rice, cooking oil, salt and other items. The shops remain close as the shop keepers have found it difficult to collect essential items from the township markets because of restrictions imposed by the government forces, she added.
As the weather was changing and heavy rains started pouring, villagers continue to suffer from various seasonal diseases including the vector-borne dengue. But the patients presently can enjoy no access to healthcare facilities as the village pharmacies were already closed down.
Severely affected villages include Sitta Ra, Myin Tin Ma, Let Khoke, Tha Luu Chaung, Kua Son, Taung Pauk Kay, Play Taung etc are located on the bank of Phon Tha Chaung creek. Many Chin nationals, who have been settled at upper reach of the creek are also facing difficulties because of the army access.
Parliamentarian U Hla Thein Aung revealed that he would raise the issue in the forthcoming Rakhine parliament session and try to resolve the matter. Otherwise, the villagers would find it too difficult to survive, he commented.
Many villagers including the women use to collect bamboo shoots and sell in nearby town-markets for livelihood. During the rainy season, the villagers avoid climbing the hills, but this time they have been unfortunately confined by both the weather and security forces in their localities.