Media escorted to Awng Lawt, Kachin State

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The independent media group visits Awng Lawt market in Tanai. Photo: Po Htaung

A media group is in Myitkyina in Kachin State to report on the living conditions of displaced persons who fled their homes following security operations. The media group travelled to Awng Lawt village in Tanai Township northwest of Myitkyina yesterday.
The media group arrived in an area formerly held by KIA Brigade (2) and interviewed Brig-Gen Kyaw Soe Min on the current situation in Awng Lawt.
The Brigadier-General said teams from the Red Cross and the State Government have already arrived in the area.
“People are writing on social media that the area has been bombed, military are shooting in the villages and villagers are dying, but I want to tell them that we follow the rules of engagement,” he said. “We only go after military targets and after the skirmishes we look after the villager’s houses.”
“Everyone wants to return to their homes. Please come back, we will prepare all security details. We even offered to help with food and housing. If they are trapped in the forest, then there are committees in the State they can contact and we can provide assistance through them. They say they are trapped, so what can we do? Currently there is no fighting in Aung Lawt”, said Brig-Gen Soe Min.
The media group and Lt-Col Soe Htet travelled to the headquarters of KIA Brigade (2) and a nearby village to ascertain if there were bombings in the area.
Lt-Col Soe Htet told the media group that when security forces first arrived in the area, they saw the KIA Brigade 2 on fire, but the village nearby was relatively untouched.
“No one has yet to come to us for help saying they are trapped here,” Lt-Col Soe Htet said..
U Guinness, Chairman of the Kachin State Red Cross Administration Committee, told the media group that they first received requests for helping trapped villagers on 17 April and received permission from the Kachin State Government to proceed.
“We received permission from the Northern State Military Command on 18 April and we set out on 20 April,” said U Guinness. “We waited in Aung Lawt from 20 to 22 April, but we didn’t see any villagers there. But we received news that some workers from Shwe Mhaw who were trapped there had heard that the Red Cross was in the area, so we set up a temporary rescue camp in Aung Lawt KBC. We transported 225 Shwe Mhaw workers and merchants to Tanai. Once we reached Tanai, we handed the workers and merchants over to the General Administration Department in the area. From there, the workers and merchants were sent back to their homes vie Namti, Mogaung.”
Later in the evening, officials from the Social Welfare Department, Myanmar Red Cross, state ministers, and the State Advocate General and other officials travelled to Lawar Catholic Church in Hpakant Township to meet with 139 displaced persons residing there, who were given humanitarian support by the Myanmar Red Cross.


By Ye Kaung Nyunt


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