An extra 199,615 internally displaced people (IDPs) have been created in Karenni (Kayah) State and just across the state border in southern Shan State since the February 2021 coup.
The figures were calculated by Institute for Strategy and Policy – Myanmar (ISP-Myanmar), which based its calculations on reports from independent civil society organisations (CSOs).
According to the previous government’s Administration Department, the population of Karenni State is over 390,000. This means that more than half of the people in Karenni State (51.16 per cent) have been displaced and are now IDPs, though the real figure could be considerably higher.
Since the coup armed conflicts have increased in the state.
Initially, the anti-junta forces armed themselves with homemade hunting muskets known as Tumee rifles that have become symbols of the armed resistance against the junta. As the revolution continued the rebels in Karenni State acquired more modern weapons such as machine guns, rifles and sniper rifles.
But as the resistance intensified so did the junta’s military offensives. Between May 2021 and April 2022 the Karenni Army, the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), local People’s Defence Forces (PDFs), and other Karenni resistance groups clashed with junta forces more than 247 times.
In that time in Karenni State the junta carried out 123 airstrikes, over 95 of which hit Demoso Township. They also destroyed 714 buildings, including churches and IDP shelters, in the same period.
They killed at least 112 civilians in that time. In some cases, civilians were killed after being arrested and in others soldiers burned the corpses to try to dispose of them.
According to ISP-Myanmar’s figures 78,000 people have been displaced from Demoso Township, 52,000 have been displaced in Loikaw Township and 50,000 have been displaced from Pekon Township, about 15km northwest of Karenni State in southern Shan State. The numbers of people displaced in other Karenni townships are as follows: Hpruso Township – 6,000; Hpasawng Township – 4,000; Bawlakhe Township – 3,000; Shardaw Township – 2,000; and Mese Township – 1,000.
In some places, like Mese, even though there have been no military offensives people have still fled when junta forces arrived because they were so scared of what might happen.
Credit- Mizzima News