Tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting between the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Army are still languishing in shelters and camps. Rebel leaders do not want a ceasefire, but “political talks”. Local priest says food supplies are a major problem. Concerns are growing over sanitary conditions.
02/01/2012 Burma (AsiaNews) - Kachin refugees are afraid to return to their home villages because of renewed fighting between the Burmese military and rebels. Despite talks between government representatives and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), tensions remain high and tens of thousands of people displaced by the hostilities are still stuck in shelters run by Christian organisations or in private homes, their future still uncertain.
For Kachin leaders, the restart in fighting after 17 years of relative calm is evidence that the most important issues have not been resolved, including greater autonomy.
Fr Luke Kha Li, parish priest at the St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Manwingyi (Bhamo District), told UCAN that “food supplies” for refugees and preparations for the return journey are the main concern.
Almost 500 refugees found shelter in the parish church, whilst another 1,200 were taken in by local families with the support from the Karuna Banmaw Social Service (the local Caritas).
Displaced after hostilities between the Burmese army and the KIA broke out again in June 2011, some 60,000 people found refuge in Church buildings, private homes and makeshift camps in eastern Kachin state.
Humanitarian workers are now sounding the alarm, warning that health and sanitary conditions refugees face might worsen.
A Kachin nurse, Di Di Ah Hkaw, told The Irrawaddy, a dissident online publication, that miscarriages are a growing problem.
“Pregnant women have no choice but to run from their homes to a safe place while many of their husbands are fighting on the frontline,” she said.