Myanmar: Conflicts on the Rise in Kachin State

14 May 2018

Since December 2017, conflicts between the Burmese Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) have intensified in many parts of Kachin State.

Due to heavy mortar shelling and airstrikes by the Burmese Army, thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, have fled their villages. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that in April alone, more than 6,800 people were displaced.

In May, 130 people from HlaingNaungHku village were evacuated by government authorities. Church organizations along with Church leaders also rescued 260 persons from AwngLawt.

However, more than 1,000 civilians remain trapped in the AwngLawt war zone since April 11, 2018. Local churches, non-profit organizations, some government departments, the Myanmar Red Cross and private donors continue to respond to the influx of new Internally Displaced Populations (IDP) by offering shelter and food.

The IDP, especially pregnant women, children and elderly, are in desperate need of food.

Moreover, parents who have had to flee their homes are also concerned about their children’s education. It is unclear whether displaced children, who were enrolled in schools in non-government controlled area, will be allowed to attend government schools in the areas where they now reside.

An elusive peace?

In Myitkyina, on April 30, 2018, about 5,000 people, including religious and civil society leaders and youth, protested in the streets. They demanded that the government rescue civilians trapped in the war zones. Kachin Public Youth also released a statement calling on the government to both save civilians and take responsibility for the conflicts in the affected communities. The group vowed to hold demonstrations until the government acts. On May 2, additional organizations called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians, and humanitarian access to evacuation in Kachin and northern Shan states.

Despite the peace process between the Myanmar Union Government and various ethnic groups, the situation in Kachin State has deteriorated. The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) is not a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). The ceasefire between the Burmese Army and the KIA was broken in 2011. Since then, there have been seven years of conflict in Kachin State. More than 100,000 IDPs are now living in camps throughout Kachin State.

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