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Hnin New | DMG
20 June, Rathedaung

Fifty-four people who had been trapped by fighting near Sauk Khat village in Arakan State’s Rathedaung Township for 12 days were rescued on June 20, according to the rescuers.

Hostilities broke out between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) near Sauk Khat on June 9 and more than 50 people were pinned down by the fighting, while other residents fled their homes.

Cut off for nearly two weeks, those trapped — including elderly and sick villagers — had run out of food, water and medical supplies, one of the villagers said.

“We didn’t have sufficient food. We had only rice because we didn’t have adequate supplies of food and medicine,” he said.

The 54 trapped villagers included one paralytic, two others with disabilities, six children and a centenarian.

Local lawmakers met with the Arakan State minister for Security and Border Affairs and sought permission from him to rescue the trapped people in Sauk Khat village, said Rathedaung resident Ko Bekka, one of the rescuers.

“We were subject to security checks along the route. But we didn’t encounter any problem because security personnel from the Tatmadaw knew that we were given permission from the Arakan State security and border affairs minister to evacuate the trapped villagers,” he added.

The villagers pinned down by the fighting were rescued by a group of locals from Rathedaung led by eight Buddhist monks. Arrangements are being made by senior monks and the town administrative body to accommodate the evacuees, said Upper House lawmaker U Khin Maung Latt.

Across Arakan State, the number of people displaced by conflict due to clashes between the Tatmadaw and the AA has surpassed 150,000, according to the Rakhine Ethnics Congress.

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