Myat Swe | DMG
19 February, Kyauktaw
More than 200 people attempting to return to Paletwa Township in Chin State are stranded in Kyauktaw town, Arakan State, due to fighting between the Tatmadaw and Arakan Army near the Kaladan River, residents said.
The boat service plying the Kaladan River route that links the towns of Kyauktaw and Paletwa has been suspended since February 6, leaving the would-be travelers to Paletwa stranded downriver for the time being. Among those seeking to return to Paletwa are education staff, traders and shoppers, said Ko Tin Tun Aung, a resident of Paletwa town.
“Some people have to stay at their relatives’ home. Some are staying at guesthouses. Some have had to go to Sittwe where their relatives are living. Some are staying at a monastery because they do not have money to spend,” he said.
One teacher said she was worried about her students in Paletwa because she has been unable to return to them as end-of-year exams approach.
“I have been stuck here for many days. I am assigned to the exam room of Grade 8,” she said.
Upriver, the fighting is cause for concern because Paletwa residents rely on the market in Kyauktaw for certain food supplies and medicines, and are now facing shortages with commerce between the towns effectively on pause.
“We cannot buy rice now in Paletwa Township even though we’d be willing to pay double the [regular] price. Other foodstuffs are not available either,” Ko Tin Tun Aung said.
On February 18, clashes broke out around a Tatmadaw’s Byuhargone artillery regiment base, near the Mee Chaung Creek bridge in Paletwa Township, and between Wetmakya and Tinma villages in Kyauktaw Township. The fighting near Byuhargone has lasted for 13 days, the Arakan Army said.