Save the Children is horrified that dozens of buildings have been deliberately set ablaze in Thantlang in Myanmar today, including one of its own offices. This comes amid an upsurge in the military’s offensive in Chin State.
At least 100 buildings are thought to have been destroyed so far by the fire in the remote and largely deserted town of Thantlang, in northern Chin State, which reportedly broke out at around 11am following the use of heavy weapons. Fire continues to tear through the town and there is no fire service available to control the blaze.
Save the Children said it was concerned about the safety of 20 children who are thought to remain in the town. It fears that hundreds of homes could be destroyed, as many buildings in the town are made of wood.
The agency’s partners captured photographs of clouds of smoke billowing out of the town.
Thantlang was home to nearly 10,000 people before fighting forced almost the entire town to flee last month as conflict escalated across Chin State. Save the Children said all of its 10 staff working in the town had been forced to flee as well. Most of the town’s inhabitants are sheltering in villages on the Indian border while others have crossed the border into India.
Save the Children said it had not been able to assess the damage to its office firsthand as civilian access to the town has been restricted since it was abandoned. The agency was forced to suspend its lifesaving health programmes in the town after violence broke out last month.
Save the Children said:
“The destruction caused by this violence is utterly senseless. Not only has it damaged one of our offices, it risks destroying the whole town and the homes of thousands of families and children. The people who live here have already had to flee their homes to escape violent clashes in recent weeks. Many will now have lost what little they had left, and will have no homes to return to, adding to the numbers of long term displaced people across Myanmar and its borders.
“This incident is further evidence of a deepening crisis in Myanmar, with escalating violence affecting large numbers of children across the country. The military coup and subsequent humanitarian crisis continue to fundamentally threaten children’s human rights. Critically, with humanitarian needs increasing, funding for life-saving work is not keeping pace.
“Save the Children condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms. Indiscriminate attacks including on civilians and humanitarian organisations are violations of international humanitarian law. We call on the parties responsible to refrain from any such attack and to put the protection of civilians – especially children – front and centre.”