IDPs Flee Fighting in Mungpaw, Some Confined to Their Camp

By KLN

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

IDPs from Mungpaw area arrive Muse Kachin Baptist Church compound
IDPs from Mungpaw area arrive Muse Kachin Baptist Church compound

About 400 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who fled a new Burmese army offensive in Mungpaw in northern Shan State have arrived in Muse Kachin Baptist Church compound on May 4. An aid worker who is assisting new arrivals with shelter and basic needs said these new IDPs are from 6 different villages in Mungpaw area. IDPs who fled their villages have reported that government troops threatened them and seized their belongings as they rushed to escape fighting. Six Wing Seng villagers said Burmese army soldiers seized their home phones. Ah Gai, an ethnic Chinese, said two pieces of her gold ear-rings and one ring were robbed by government troops.

Fighting has raged between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and a combined force of Burmese army and pro-government militia troops in Mungpaw and Win Seng areas in northern Shan State since April 29. KBC, Metta and UNHCR are currently providing emergency assistance and aids to IDPs who have arrived in Muse.

In southern Kachin State, the situation has worsened for IDPs in Man Win Gyi and Lagat Yang as Burmese army troops occupy more territory formerly controlled by the KIA.

On May 3, a bomb exploded near Man Win Gyi at around 10:20 am and injured Sharaw Gam, a 66-year-old villager, who was staying inside his own home. He was later taken to Muse hospital for treatment. Local sources say Burmese army troops opened fire randomly after the bomb blasts and 14 IDPs aged 23-58 from Lagat Yang IDP camp were detained by Burmese army’s 88th Light Infantry Division (LID) troops led by Lt. Col. Kyaw San on May 3. They had been released the next day from detention but 24-year-old Maru La Awng was later re-arrested by 88th LID troops on suspicion of possible connection to KIA. Maru La Awng was freed from detention yesterday following a recommendation for release from camp committee members and religious leaders that he is not connected to insurgent groups.

A KLN source reported that despite being set free from detention, all 14 IDPs are confined to Lagat Yang camp and not allowed to go outside the camp without permission from Burmese army officers. The army officers ordered 14 IDPs to be prepared for appearance before them whenever being summoned.

An aid worker said, “IDPs’ rights are not respected and army officials do not follow the humanitarian principles too. Military should not treat IDPs like that. Fully armed soldiers should not go and check IDPs camp in their uniforms as they are threatening IDPs”. She said, “Most IDPs are frightened by the presence of soldiers. They are afraid to live in Lagat Yang camp but they have no choice but to stay. They can’t even move to Man Win Gyi camp as there is no place for them.”

According to a recent report by Relief Action Network for IDP and Refugee (RANIR), a network of local NGOs and faith-based organizations, a total of 798 IDPs that includes 375 children under 15 live in Lagat Yang camp, and 3,723 IDPs live in Man Wing area. The number of IDPs in these camps has increased since the first week of April as Burmese army launched new offensives.