YANGON: More than 200,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Myanmar after an alliance of ethnic minority groups started an offensive against the military last month, the United Nations (UN) said on Wednesday.
Fighting has raged since 27 October across northern Shan state close to the Chinese border after the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and Arakan Army launched attacks on the military, according to AFP news agency.
The alliance has blocked key trade routes to China and seized a border hub in what observers say is the biggest military challenge to the ruling junta since it seized power in 2021.
Displaced Persons in Myanmar’s States
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said that as of Wednesday, over 200,000 people across the Kayah, Shan, Chin, and Mon states and the Sagaing region have been forcibly displaced because of fighting.
At least seventy-five civilians, including children, have been killed and 94 people injured in the fighting, UNOCHA said, citing initial reports from the field.
The UN said that both sides have set up checkpoints on roads they control in Shan state, and mobile communication remains patchy outside the main city of Lashio, disturbing the delivery of aid.
The junta has imposed martial law on several townships in the state, further disturbing relief efforts, it added. The remoteness of the rugged, jungle-clad region — home to pipelines that supply gas and oil to China — and patchy communications make it hard to verify casualty numbers.
The ruling junta has admitted it has lost ground but dismissed claims by the alliance to have occupied towns across the northern Shan state as “propaganda”.
This week, the Arakan Army launched fresh attacks on the military in western Rakhine state, shattering a fragile ceasefire that had been held in the state.
In Kayah state near the Thai border, anti-junta fighters said they were battling the forces near the state capital Loikaw.