Landmine, ERW victims face livelihood challenges in wake of Arakan conflict
Victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) during some two years of fighting between the military and Arakan Army (AA) are facing food, shelter and livelihood insecurities more than a year after the guns fell silent in Arakan State.
“We are struggling to make ends meet as we are unable to work as ordinary people. We cannot find a job or carry things,” said U Kyaw Aye Thein, a 55-year-old amputee who lost one of his legs in a landmine blast near Ma Nyin Taung village in Arakan State’s Rathedaung Township.
U Kyaw Aye Thein had his left leg amputated after stepping on a landmine near his village on March 29, 2020. He said that in the aftermath of his injury, he is also worried about the education of his son, who is a Grade 2 student.
U Kyaw Aye Thein’s family is currently unable to return home and is taking shelter at the Shwe Parami Monastery displacement camp in downtown Rathedaung.
Similarly, U Oo Thein Htay, a 43-year-old man from Thayetpyin Chaung village in Ann Township, had his right leg amputated after he stepped on a landmine in February of this year. At present, his family is facing livelihood hardships.
“Losing one of my legs has been a real challenge. And as the head of the household, I have three children. Because I could not work, it was difficult for them all to go to school,” said U Oo Thein Htay.
Ko Bekka, an aid worker in Rathedaung Township, said victims of landmines and ERWs often find the already challenging circumstances of post-conflict Arakan State to be that much harder.
“Even for the town dwellers, jobs are scarce, and for the displaced people, getting a job is very difficult for the time being. The situation is very bad for those who lost their limbs due to landmines,” he told DMG.
At least 20 people in Rathedaung Township were injured in landmine and ERW encounters during the fighting between the military and the Arakan Army in Arakan State, which lasted from late 2018 to October 2020.
According to figures from the Rakhine Ethnics Congress, at least 49 people were killed and 79 others were injured in explosions of landmines and ERWs during the two-year conflict in Arakan State.