“The majority of those who remain in Sittwe are the poor. They are left stranded as the roads are blocked. Only a very few rich people remain in Sittwe. These days, it is not easy to moves from one place to another.” A local woman from Sittwe

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An interview with a local woman stranded in Sittwe, about the latest situation in Sittwe.

Locals stranded in Sittwe town said for consecutive days, they have been hearing the sounds of jet fighters, heavy shelling and gunfire in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, which is under the administration of the military council.

Locals said that the military council has planted landmines around Sittwe and arrested those leaving the town and seized their money and belongings.

Narinjara interviewed a stranded local woman from Sittwe, about the latest developments in Sittwe.

Q: What is the current situation in Sittwe?

A: We sometimes hear gunshots from the town. Recently, we heard the sounds of planes flying until 11 pm to midnight. We don’t know where they flew to because it was night time. In the daytime, the planes also fly at low altitudes. The Navy also fires light and heavy weapons. We frequently hear the sounds of heavy shells. I don’t exactly know where they fired. I have heard that the junta has planted landmines around Sittwe. In addition to other concerns, we also have livelihood difficulties.

Q: Why are you stranded in Sittwe? Do you have any plans to escape?

A: I tried to leave Sittwe for other towns twice. However, the road trip is not okay because I will have to flee with the children. Now, the military council has blocked the roads. The military council shoots, kills and arrests those who flee to other places, by risking their lives. In addition, the military council seized all of their money and belongings. In addition, we are unable to leave the town as they have planted landmines. We are stranded as we think that we would run into trouble if we fled the town. We have to take everything into account as we have children. We feel sorry as we are unable to flee.

Caption – Downtown Sittwe.

Q: We often hear the sounds of jet fighters, heavy shells and light weapons. To what extent are the people concerned about it?

A: We are concerned about everything. No one wants to die. We have to think about the future of our children. We live with hopes for the future of our children. We have lost our hopes as we are unable to flee. We are worried as the military can unexpectedly fire heavy shells or drop bombs with airplanes. We are full of fear and anxiety as something may happen in Sittwe.

Q: What are the current commodity prices in Sittwe?

A: The price of a chicken egg is Ks 1,200. There is a shortage of fishes. Sometimes fish curries packed with plastic bags arrive here by ship. We always have to eat dried fish and chicken eggs. The price of pork is Ks-60,000 per viss. The price of a barramundi is Ks-40,000-50,000. The people have no jobs although commodity prices are skyrocketing. We have to eat vegetables as vendors buy and sell them taking their risk. Everything is expensive. The prices of onion and edible oil are cheap. Who will survive for long? Even daily wage earners are facing famine.

Q: How do the people in Sittwe, including you, solve livelihood difficulties?

A: Shopkeepers continue to sell their goods as the market remains open. Some people sell cold drinks as it is summer. Some people sell groceries. They earn their living as much as they can. Some people earn their living by selling off their belongings. Some people demolished and sold abandoned houses as firewood in Sittwe. The people also use them as firewood.

The daily-wage earners are facing hunger. The well-off people donate food for the poor. The poor have to register their names and then withdraw food with tickets. The majority of those who remain in Sittwe are the poor. They are left stranded as the roads are blocked. Only a very few rich people remain in Sittwe. These days, it is not easy to moves from one place to another. In addition, we also need money for daily survival when we move to other villages.

Sent by Narinjara

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