Burmese Army Troops Surround Namlim Pa IDP Camp and School

By KLN

Sunday, October 17, 2013

Mungding Pa hpyenyen
Kachin IDPs fled their homes as Burmese army troops arrive (Photo credit: KBC)

Burmese army soldiers entered Namlim Pa, a village of about 2300 residents that include IDPs and school children, by firing gunshots on Nov 16 at about 4:30 pm, reported a local source. The soldiers then surrounded Namlim Pa IDP Camp and a school located inside the village. About 700 school children and 34 teachers are among the residents being surrounded by Burmese army soldiers.

Namlim Pa village originally had a total population of about 700. About 1000 IDPs from surrounding villages in Mansi Township arrived in Namlim Pa after renewed battles began in KIA’s 12th and 27th Battalion areas in mid-October. The latest round of military clashes led to the rise in the number of IDP population to about 1500.

An earlier report from KIA sources said they were still monitoring the situation and had not yet opened fire in fear of many IDPs being trapped in crossfire. But a latest report said fighting has begun early today between the two sides at about 7 am.

Kachin IDPs have been confined inside Namlim Pa village for more than three weeks. Aid workers from 4 NGOs, including Catholic Church’s Karuna Bhamo Social Service (KBSS), on Nov 14 requested Burmese army’s tactical commander in Bhamo to allow them to deliver much needed food and basic necessities to IDPs in Namlim Pa as many residents have nothing left to eat except some banana stems. But they were stopped by a frontline commander at Manwin Lay after traveling for 14 miles from Bhamo. The frontline commander told aid workers that they cannot deliver aids to IDPs unless they are accompanied by a Burmese military convoy which carries food rations for Burmese army troops.

A local source said Burmese army troops followed aid convoy to Namlim Pa but aid workers said they were not aware of troops following them. Aid workers from KBSS and a local aid group Wunpawng Ninghtoi are among those being trapped inside Namlim Pa village.

Ashok Nigam, UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, asked in a statement about the current situation in Mansi Township on October 25 to respect civilian’s fundamental right to freedom of movement and allow safe passage to their areas of choice. He said, “Many displaced children have been hosted (in Namlim Pa) for long time in a boarding school in the area, and are now again trapped in a conflict zone. While some people have been able to escape the violence, many are unable to move to safer locations. I am seriously concerned about the civilians being caught in any cross-fire, especially children and the elderly”.

US Ambassador Derek Mitchell said in a separate statement on October 27 to avoid any actions that threaten or otherwise put at risk the lives and well-being of the people of Kachin State, particularly vulnerable populations in villages and IDP camps.

Despite calls for a nationwide ceasefire by Burmese government, Burmese army continues its offensive operations in KIO-controlled territories in Mansi Township. An NGO source says three ships loaded with Burmese army troops arrived yesterday in Bhamo and more troops are headed to Mansi Township. Local sources say fighting in KIA’s 12th Battalion area around Namlim Pa will escalate as more government troops arrive.