Most of locals displaced by the fighting between the Arakan Army (AA) and the military council in downtown Paletwa in southern Chin State are still unable to return to their homes.
It has been around three weeks since the AA captured downtown Paletwa and the entire Paletwa Township. However, the AA has not allowed the displaced locals to return to their homes due to the current military situations, a local from Paletwa said.
“They give an account that if there are more people in the town, bombardments will result in heavy casualties. That’s why they said it had better stay here,” said the Palatwa resident.
“Neither the locals who fled the upstream and downstream of Kalandan River nor the locals who fled to other places, are allowed to return to the downtown Paletwa.
There are around 1,700 households in downtown Paletwa. Now around 300 houses are staying in downtown. They are the ones who did not flee and the ones who fled to the nearby area of Paletwa.
Until now, the phone lines have been cut off in Paletwa Township. The locals who want to make phone calls have to go to Meezar village located about a five-hour drive from Paletwa and the hills, according to locals.
A Paletwa local who fled to Yangon said: “They can phone me when they are on the hill. But I can’t call them. Mobile phone access is not available in downtown Paletwa yet. The people have access to phone lines upstream of Meezar.”
The junta has cut off phone lines in Paletwa for nearly two months. Paletwa-Kyauktaw water routes and roads remain closed. Locals have to buy basic foodstuff including rice from Mizoram of India.
There are reports that the AA is collecting taxes on the goods coming from Mizoram by opening a gate at Shinletwa village. However, it has yet to be independently confirmed.
The AA seized full control of all battalions and camps in Paletwa Township. On 14 January, Paletwa became a military council-free area.
Sent by KMG