ASEAN NGOS AP­PEAL FOR END TO FIGHT­ING IN KACHIN STATE, REFUGEES’ SAFETY

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page -

A GROUP of non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions from the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) on Wed­nes­day urged the gov­ern­ment to end all fight­ing in Kachin State and en­sure the safety and se­cu­rity of the refugees and non­com­bat­ants.

Pro­gres­sive Voice, which con­sists of 25 NGOs from among the 10 mem­bers of ASEAN, ex­pressed con­cern about “the re­cent es­ca­la­tion of armed con­flict and hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Kachin …that has re­sulted in the dis­place­ment of thou­sands of civil­ians.”

It also called on the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment to al­low im­me­di­ate ac­cess to all hu­man­i­tar­ian aid in Kachin and other ar­eas af­fected by the on­go­ing con­flict and “work to­ward build­ing trust with eth­nic peo­ple by recog­nis­ing their right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

It also called on ASEAN to take ac­tion to end the clashes.

“ASEAN as a re­gional body must ur­gently re­spond to this on­go­ing con­flict and hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis …to al­low safe pas­sage for those trapped in con­flict in Kachin, and end the on­go­ing of­fen­sives and hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions against all eth­nic peo­ple,” it said.

The Of­fice of the United Na­tions Of­fice of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (OCHA) es­ti­mated the num­ber of newly dis­placed peo­ple in Kachin at 7400, since fight­ing be­tween the Tat­madaw (mil­i­tary) and the eth­nic armed group Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army in­ten­si­fied in April.

Th­ese new refugees are shel­ter­ing in lo­cal churches, in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons camps or with host fam­i­lies across eight town­ships in the state, where they were able to re­ceive as­sis­tance, the UN agency re­ported.

The OCHA is ap­peal­ing for more sup­port for th­ese peo­ple who are in need of food, health, ed­u­ca­tion and wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion ser­vices.

The agency said the newly dis­placed num­ber of refugees was on top of the ap­prox­i­mately 92,000 peo­ple who were dis­placed in ear­lier clashes and were liv­ing in IDP camps.

Hos­til­i­ties be­tween the Tat­madaw and the KIA erupted in 2011 af­ter the break­down of a 17-year ceasefire. Since then spo­radic clashes be­tween the two armed forces broke out, forc­ing vil­lages to flee their homes to es­cape harm.

The Kachin In­de­pen­dence Or­gan­i­sa­tion, the po­lit­i­cal arm of the KIA, had been ne­go­ti­at­ing with the gov­ern­ment over sign­ing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agree­ment, but the talks failed in 2016 fol­low­ing re­newed fight­ing.

Pro­gres­sive Voice said the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment should heed the call of its peo­ple and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to end the fight­ing.

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