Humanitarian crisis looms as Kachin conflict intensifies

Humanitarian crisis looms as Kachin conflict intensifies

Burmese Army’s 223rd Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) troops have launched another offensive on Wednesday at 5am against KIA’s 1st Battalion post located near Chyari- Dagaw in Momauk Township. Burmese Army troops fired several rounds of artillery shells, followed by ground offensive on KIA positions at around 10:30 am, said a KIA frontline source.

KIA’s 1st Battalion troops had withdrawn on Wednesday from its Dagaw Mada Post located about a half mile away from Chyari- Dagaw where the current fighting is taking place. The KIA source says a combined force of Burmese Army’s 223rd LIB and 601st LIR launched a joint attack against KIA to occupy Dagaw Mada Post.

KIA’s 9th Battalion troops engaged in a battle against an unknown Burmese Army unit at Hka Hkip village in Kutkai Township in northern Shan State on 15 April. No casualties on either side have been reported so far.

A local source says Burmese Army troops stationed at Lawdan, located between Bhamo and Lwe Je, have randomly fired several rounds of artillery shells into surrounding area to expand territory under their control.

Local villagers from Awng Nan, Awng Ra, Hkyet Wa Hkan and other smaller villages have to flee their homes due to ongoing bombardments by government troops and fighting between KIA and Burmese Army troops.

Mary Tawm, coordinator of local Kachin aid group Wunpawng Ninghtoi (WPN) said, “I am very worried about the villagers and it seems that there will be more IDPs in Mansi Township and Momauk Township.”

“There has been fighting every day in different parts of Mansi and Momauk townships and the conflict area is not very far from the over 10,000 IDPs living in six different camps,” she said. “If the situation continues like this, more people will be forcefully displaced.”

The Joint Strategy Team (JST) for Humanitarian Response in Kachin & Northern Shan States, a group which is comprised of major local NGOs and faith-based organizations like BRIDGE, Kachin Baptist Convention, Kachin Relief and Development Committee, Kachin Women’s Association, Kachin Development Group, Karuna Myanmar Social Services, Metta Development Foundation, Shalom Foundation and WPN, on Monday issued a statement on current massive displacement of over 3,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees.

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The JST urges warring parties to immediately cease fire, and to implement and fully abide by the agreements previously made between the two sides. The JST said it requests both Burmese Army and KIA to ensure full compliance of international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. The group also said the safety and protecting the security of the IDPs, especially children and more vulnerable ones, is the first priority for both parties involved in the current conflict.

The group asks Chinese government to keep with the principle of non-refoulement for refugees and international donor organizations to help IDPs with their basic needs for food and shelter.

Aid workers say local Chinese authorities asked refugees living at a temporary makeshift camp at Lung Krawk on the China side of the border not to stay in the camp and told them to stay at friends’ and relatives’ houses.

Lung Krawk was a temporary camp for Kachin refugees fleeing the war until Chinese authorities sent them back in August 2012.

This article was originally published in Kachinland News on 17 April 2014.

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