Humanitarian Crisis Looms as Fighting Intensifies in Kachin and Northern Shan State

By KLN

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Chinese soldier stands guard as refugees try to cross the border (Photo: WPN)
A Chinese soldier stands guard as refugees try to cross the border (Photo: WPN)

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

KIA’s 1st Battalion troops had withdrawn yesterday from its Dagaw Mada Post located about a half mile away from Chyari- Dagaw where current fighting is taking place.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 April 15. 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.” She said, “There have been fighting everyday in different parts of Mansi and Momauk townships and conflict area is not very far from the over 10,000 IDPs living in six different camps. If 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 (KBC), Kachin Relief and Development Committee (KRDC), Kachin Women Association (KWA), Kachin Development Group (KDG), Karuna Myanmar Social Services (KMSS), Metta Development Foundation, Shalom Foundation and Wunpawng Ninghtoi (WPN) , on Monday issued a statement on current massive displacement of over 3,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees.

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 for 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 in China side of the border not to stay in group 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.