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The census has been completed early in three far-flung regions of Burma. Families in Putao, Kachin State, at the foot of the Burmese Himalayas have been counted, along with households in the Coco Islands off the coast of Rangoon and those in the Chinese border town of Mongla.
Khin Khin Soe, director of the Population Department — a wing of the Ministry of Immigration and Population — said the census was taken in the three disparate areas ahead of the 30 March date due to difficulty of access.
“Getting to Putao was a big challenge — our staff hiked on foot for two weeks to reach some towns in the district such as Kaunglanfu and Pannandin, and the snow starts to melt around the beginning of March making transportation even more difficult,” said Khin Khin Soe.
Sai Yi, an ethnic official from the self-administrated Shan State Special Region 4 — Mongla region — said census taking went smoothly in the area thanks to preceding training by the Immigration Ministry.
“We started the census count on 20 February after the government training. We finished on 12 March,” said Sai Yi.
Meanwhile, officials in the ethnically Wa region — Shan State Special Region 2 — are to begin their training on 17 March and start gathering data five days ahead of the nationwide schedule.
Shan state has proven to be treacherous terrain for census planners. Several minority ethnic groups in the state say they plan to conduct a population count on their own terms and separate from the government-sanctioned nationwide census scheduled to begin at end of this month. Intermittent fighting between the Shan State Army South and government troops has also plagued the region of late.
The nationwide census, conducted for the first time in 30 years, will start for the majority of the country on 30 March and end on 10 April.