MYANMAR: Fishermen struggle to pay back loans

PYAPON, 19 December 2008 (IRIN) – Fishermen hit by Cyclone Nargis are struggling to pay back government loans meant to jumpstart their livelihoods.

While the loans have helped, more assistance will be needed to sustain them for the long term, they said.

“I’m not sure whether I will be able to make the payments in time,” Mya Win Maung said from his home in Pyapon, in Ayeyarwady Delta.

In July, he received a US$800 loan from the Livestock and Fisheries Development Bank to repair his 30ft vessel at an interest rate of 1.42 percent per month for one year.

“Within six to nine months we have to pay back half the loan,” the 56-year-old, one of 1,288 fishermen who qualified under the scheme, explained. continue

AK-47s—Made in Wa State

The United Wa State Army (UWSA), an armed ethnic ceasefire group based in Shan State, northern Burma, is manufacturing arms and ammunition for use by their own battalions and to sell to other armed groups in the region, according to sources close to armed groups in Shan State.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Sai Sheng Murng, the deputy spokesman of the rival Shan State Army-South (SSA) said, “For more than one year now, the UWSA has been manufacturing AK-47 rifles similar to those made in China.”

Another source close to the UWSA said, “They (the UWSA) learned how to make arms from the Chinese. continue

New command moves to Thai-Kayah border

Mongpan-based Military Operations Command #17 with light infantry battalions (LIDs) have arrived at the mountain range overlooking Maehongson, according to sources on the border.

14 December 2008

The 5 battalions include:
LID 295 Wan Htam, Mongpan (supplanting IB 426 at Sop Pai)
LID 520 Mongpan
LID 525 Langkherh (supplanting LIB 336 at Daw Mu Ma)
LID 574 Kengtawng, Mongnai
LID 578 Langkherh

According to another source, three of the said battalions are still on their way from Shadaw, northwest of Maehongson.

MOC #17 is under the command of Brig Gen Tun Maung Win, said a Thai security officer quoting the anti-Rangoon Karenni Army (KA) chief of staff Bee Htoo.

The KA is based at Doi Yamu, the mountain range southwest of Maehongson. Several failed attempts were made in 2005 and 2006 to seize it. More than 1,000 shells had fallen inside the Thai soil, reported The Manager Online on 12 December.

Weekly Diary, No. 331 (6 – 12 December 2008)