In a makeshift camp in Burma for people displaced by fighting between the army and rebels, two young men work the red earth with a hoe and a machete to build a bunker.
The state of Kayah (East), bordering Thailand, has been the scene of regular clashes since the military coup of February 1, 2021 which prompted dozens of defense groups to take up arms against the ruling junta. .
Breaking down the resistance
We hear the sound of heavy weapons every day and we wonder if the shells will explode near our house,
” Ar Mu, who has been living for months in a camp of odds and ends near Demoso, told AFP.
She is one of the 200 inhabitants of this temporary camp where tarpaulins have been fixed to the trees to provide shade for those who have had to flee their village because of the violence.
Two years after the putsch, the army admitted in February that a third of Burma was still beyond its total control.
In these territories plagued by civil conflict, the junta relies on artillery fire and its air force to annihilate the resistance that has been organized on the ground.
A United Nations report denounced in early March the violence of the military who embarked on "
a scorched earth policy
", according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.
Nearly 3,000 people have been killed since the coup.
The state of Kayah has more than 90,000 displaced people, according to the UN agency in charge of refugees (UNHCR).
The bunkers that dot the camp near Demoso are small chambers dug into the ground, whose roofs - roughly assembled tree trunks - are reinforced with several sandbags.
In one of them, children are playing a board game.
The alarm can sound at any time, says Ar Mu.
Sometimes while we are having lunch, we hear gunshots, and we go straight to our bunkers
,” she describes.
It's the worst for old people like me.
We cannot move quickly.
Read alsoBurma: with the guerrillas of the “Lion Battalion” hidden in the jungle, who call for international help
The army's artillery barrages and airstrikes are acting as "
" for civilians opposed to the coup, an Amnesty International report said last year.
Everyone wants to go home, but we can't in this situation
," says Khu Oo Reh, who recently arrived in the camp.
I told my family that we will go home one day.
Faced with the violence that poses a daily threat, the families living in the camp rely on fate.
If a shell falls on our bunker, then we will be injured or we will die
," says Ar Mu.
If we are lucky, we will be safe.