Mon 9 Sep 2013
Filed under: Ethnic Issues,Inside Burma,News
About 100 Kachin war refugees remain trapped in the isolated jungles of Putao District in Burma’s northernmost Kachin state, according to sources from a local church.
The group – mainly women and children – have been in hiding since the middle of last week when fighting broke out between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) near Nhka Ga village, Machyangbaw Township. The refugees have been unable to evacuate to designated ‘safe places’ and are being denied all forms of aid by government forces, said the sources.
The Kachin Baptist Church told the Kachin News Group that the evacuation has not been authorized by the Putao District Military Strategic Command (MSC).
Lamai Gum Ja, a member of Myitkyina-based Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) said that the group contacted Maj-Gen Tun Tun Naung, commander of Burma Army Northern Regional Military Command, for permission to evacuate the villagers. The group also requested for both the Union government and the Kachin Independence Organization to immediately halt all combat in the area.
Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samsun, general secretary of the Myitkyina-based Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) told said they are very concerned for the displaced villagers that have received no assistance. If the evacuation is authorized the affected civilians will only be able to access the nearby Machyangbaw town and Nawng Hkai village from the Mali Hka river, the reverend said.
During a media briefing in the Kachin state capital of Myitkyina last Wednesday, state government representatives said that U Hpung San, the head of the Putao military strategic command and a Machyangbaw legislator have been designated to provide aid for the displaced villagers.
Fighting broke out in the area between Mali Hka river and Chyai Hka river after the Burma army IB 137 and a local pro-government militia led by Danggu Tang (also known as Ahdang), attacked the KIA Battalion 7 post near Nhka Ga on Aug. 29, according to KIO sources.
The PCG - a peace negotiation group led by Kachin tycoon Yup Zau Hkawng – warned both the government and KIO that an escalated conflict in Putao will only hinder upcoming peace discussions later this month, Lamai Gum Ja said.