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ICC Note: Conflict between Kachin militants and the national government has resulted in a military blockade in Tanai Town of Myanmar’s northern Kachin State, where 90% of them are Christians. Although the government seeks to cut off supplies for the Kachin Independence Army, the ones who suffer turn out to be local residents and internally displaced people. The delivery of rice and fuel has been restricted for months. 

12/12/2017 Myanmar (UCA News) –Local residents and internally displaced people in Tanai town of Myanmar’s northern Kachin State are suffering amid a military blockade.

Militants from the Kachin ethnic minority have been involved in a long-running conflict with security forces of the national government.

Reverend Je Di, pastor of the local Kachin Baptist Church in Tanai, said the military has been restricting the delivery of rice and fuel for months.

However, conditions deteriorated markedly in recent weeks as the price of fuel skyrocketed and the amount of rice available for purchase dwindled.

Diesel now costs US$6.60 per gallon.

The impact has been particularly severe on some 1,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who took refuge in Tanai after fleeing clashes elsewhere in the state.

Many staying at churches rely on local donors for support, Rev. Je Di told ucanews.com.

He expressed deep concern over longer-term impacts of food shortages.

Manam Tu Ja, a Catholic and chairman of the Kachin State Democracy Party, said the military’s blockade could be aimed at rebels of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

However, it was locals and displaced civilians who were suffering.

On Dec. 4, Colonel Myo Tin, the state’s security and border affairs minister, said some businessmen, including illegal miners, were strongly suspected of supporting the KIA.

He cited this as an ongoing reason for closely monitoring the delivery of food and other supplies.

The region’s gold and amber mines, where an estimated 100,000 people work, are concentrated near Tanai.

Most of the workers are Buddhists from central Myanmar, according to local sources.

Hundreds of villagers and thousands of mine workers left the area after the military six months ago warned of planned so-called ‘clearance operations’ against armed rebels.

The Catholic Kachin politician Tu Ja said that while some occasional clashes are continuing in Kachin state, there is no serious fighting.

And he hopes there will be less future conflict as Myanmar’s defacto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, aims to hold peace talks with various ethnic minorities in late January.

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