An outbreak of diarrhoea in makeshift refugee camps in northeast Burma set up by Kachin Independence Organisation is affecting hundreds of children taking shelter there and resulted in two recent deaths, according to the KIO.
La Nan, spokesperson of the KIO told DVB three children have died so far in the camps set up in KIO headquarter town of Laiza near China’s Yunnan Province.
“Two children; aged 2 and 5, died in one day with diarrhea – so there are three deaths including the death of another child who was suffering from pneumonia (earlier),” said La Nan.
He said there are about 300 child patients seeking medical assistance everyday at local hospital suffering from illnesses related to lack of clean drinking water and inadequate sanitation.
“Children are mainly suffering from illnesses such as dengue fever and diarrhoea and this may lead to long-term health problems,” he said.
Some 20,000 refugees, who fled armed clashes between Burmese troops and KIO’s armed-wing, Kachin Independence Army that started last month, are sharing accommodation in large halls which makes it easier for the diseases to spread.
La Nan added the refugees are not getting any kind of assistance from aid groups, apart from one Non-Government Organisation in China providing blankets and mosquito nets when the refugees started to arrive in Laiza last month.
Beijing is yet to give the refugees official recognition. A statement released by Kachin Women’s Association-Thailand (KWAT) in June said China has restricted the movement of aid workers along the shared border with Burma.
Reports have also circulated that officials in Yunnan Province warned local households, some of whom are of Kachin ethnicity, along the border not to shelter refugees.