By Ko Htwe
While refugees in Kachin state have increased access to aid, humanitarian assistance is unable to reach those displaced or hiding in the jungle.
Continuous fighting since April between the Burmese Army and Kachin Independence Army in eastern Kachin state’s Panwa township at the border with China has displaced thousands of locals villagers.
A Christian pastor in Panwa said fighting in the area broke out on 27 April when KIA forces raided and captured the headquarters of a pro-government militia Border Guard Force 1002. The Burmese Army responded with a counter assault.
He said thousands of local villagers fled amid the fighting and were hiding in the jungle alongside the border, while the number of refugees at the relief camps in Waingmaw and Myitkyina townships continues to increase.
“Roughly there are thousands of them but not situated in just Waingmaw and Myitkyina – people in every village are leaving their homes and those close to the border sometimes flee into China,” said the pastor.
He said it is difficult to provide aid to the displaced people as they are scattered across different areas.
Meanwhile, Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State’s chairman and parlimentarian Hkyet Hting Nan said the numbers of refugees at the camps in Waingmaw and Myitkyina had increased from 20,000 to 23,000 during the past two months.
Refugees at the camps are receiving aid from various groups including government bodies, the UN and humanitarian organisations.
According to Hkyet Hting Nan, there is a significant amount of aid for the refugees in the towns’ camps, but it is hard to reach to those displaced inside remotes jungles.
According to estimates published by numerous aid organisations, the fighting between the KIA and government troops has displaced about 75,000 people.
A 17-year ceasefire ended last June when fighting erupted in the Kachin state, after the government demanded that the KIA join a state-run Border Guard Force.
Government negotiators and the KIA have held six rounds of talks, but have yet to reach any agreement. Yesterday’s Burmese state-run newspapers published a report accusing the KIA of targeting civilians in their skirmishes as fighting continues between the two sides. The KIA denied the allegations.