Burma needs more aid as war in Kachin State continues
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Burma needs more aid as war in Kachin State continues

President Thein Sein has repeatedly said peace and stability is crucial in the making of a developed country. He also said that without national unity Burma, with over 100 races, cannot enjoy peace and stability.

“If the local people realize the government’s goodwill policies and objectives and join hands together for development of their own region, all measures for progress of border areas and national races will be successful,” he said during 1/2011-Meeting held at the President Office in Naypyitaw in April.

On the contrary, the Burma Army has been intensifying its power in Shan, Kachin and Karen States to clear out the ethnic armed forces fighting for self-determination. President Thein Sein’s words and his army’s actions paint two very different pictures.

On the other hand, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) delegation met Vice Chairman Aung Min of newly formed Union-level Peace-making Committee at Mai Jayan on Sino-Burma border to hold informal talks on June 1, June 19 and 20. The KIO had already met Kachin State-level peace committee led by Col. Than Aung twice and then met with union level peace committee led by Aung Thaung three times and met unofficially with union level peace committee led by Aung Min four times.

The fighting between government armed forces and KIA troops in Kachin State and northern Shan State has produced more and more war refugees since last March. The two armies had countless armed-clashes in June and both sides suffered several casualties in the warfare.

The government delegation led by Aung Min and the KIO delegation had a meeting at Maijayan on June 20. During that meeting, they talked about the repatriation of war refugees as well as the withdrawal government troops from KIO controlled territory.

However, on July 20, KIA’s 24th Battalion under 5th Brigade encountered Burma Army’s troop under 21st MOC between Bum Sawn hill and Daw Hpum. On July 21, a battle took place between KIA soldiers under 5th Brigade and Burma Army’s 142nd LIB at Ban Kawng Mu village. On the same day, more fighting took place between the KIA’s 23rd Battalion and Burmese army’s 40th LIB near Laja Yang,  Kachinland News said.

As of July 21, armed clashes continue between KIA’s 24th Battalion and Burmese army’s 387th LIR near Bum Sawn hill. A battle took place between KIA’s 15th Battalion under 3rd Brigade and Burmese army’s 317th LIR near Law Mun located between Kadaw and Namhpak Hka village in the evening of July 21.

On July 22, three Burmese soldiers and one KIA soldier killed in a combat between a KIA’s mobile battalion and Burmese army’s MOC-3 near Gang Dau.

As the civil war in Kachin State cannot stop so far, inhabitants have been hiding in the jungle or becoming refugees along the Sino-Burma border. People cannot carry on their agricultural and gardening careers.  It causes the region food shortage and people suffer from malnutrition plus infectious diseases.

Before the conflict between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and government armed forces in June 2011, there was sufficient foodstuff from the paddy and vegetable farms in the neighboring areas. The armed conflicts have forced many farmers to run away from their farming. It causes the groups of native people at the mercy of domestic and international donors including the UN Agencies.

Humanitarian aid from international communities to victims in Kachin State amounted to US$ 16.7 million until the end of May, according the Eleven Media Group’s news.

The aid went to needs for food, vocational training, health care and shelter. Among the aid donors are Australia, Germany, Britain, Denmark, the U.S, France, ECHO and CERF, headed by WFP, TBD, DWHH, Trocaire, HPA, Solidarities Int’l, UNHCR and UNICEF.

The UN calculated that a total of 21.9 million would be needed to support a population of around 40,000.

Even though, several IDPs as well as refugees suffered starvation since hostilities between KIA and the Burmese military have an effect on the supply routes en route for the refugees and IDPs’ camps in the deep jungle. The worst is that government troops commonly confiscate foodstuff transported from well-wishers to IDPs and war-refugees. Due to food scarcities, many residents have no choice but to rely on rice gruel which in long term is the cause of undernourishment and sickness.

Last month’s meetings produced no solution. The government wants the KIO to sign a ceasefire before they discuss withdrawal of troops from the front lines. However, the KIO firmly said that it will not talk about the idea of ceasefire until the Burmese armed forces leaves KIO territories. Moreover, the KIO wants the participation of an international independent body like the UN to get involved in any such agreement.

Without a political solution, situation may not be controlled over current fierce fighting between Kachin Independence Army and government armed forces. About 1650 battles have been fought since renewed fighting began on June 9, 2011, according to estimation made byKachinland News.

It also said that KIO delegates have asked at least in three meetings to withdraw Burmese troops from KIO territory. But Burmese army has increased troop deployment in order to escalate its offensive war. As a result, hostility has intensified in the Kachin frontline zones.

While the government has been talking about reform, its armed forces should not escalate hostilities in the ethnic states. It is also an obligation of the government to provide humanitarian assistance to those war refugees and IDPs in ethnic states.