Myanmar’s Churches Become Shelters for Thousands of Kachin IDPs

ICC Note: More than thousands of internally displaced Kachin have taken refuge in churches as a result of the Burmese military’s ongoing offensive against ethnic rebel groups. The situation is worrisome as the Burmese military intensifies its fighting in Kachin state, forcing more people to flee.

05/15/2018 Myanmar (UCA News) – The Myanmar military’s ongoing offensive against rebels in northern Kachin State has resulted in thousands of people taking refuge in churches.

And Father Peter Hka Awng Tu, parish priest of St. Columban’s Cathedral in Myitkyina, said more than 600 people from Ingyanyang township wanted to flee a military build-up.

The military was being asked to allow their rescue, Father Awng Tu said.

The priest added that nearly 2,000 people had already taken refuge at Catholic churches in Myitkyina, Tanai, Tangphre and Namti townships.

And another group of about 200 people were being given shelter at a Catholic-run internally displaced persons’ camp in Waimaw township, near Myitkyina.

“The situation is worrisome as more people flee their homes as a result of the military’s major offensive in several townships in Kachin,” Father Awng Tu told ucanews.com.

More than 600 people who had been trapped in jungle near the Tanai and amber and gold region since April 11 reached towns last week with help from church groups.

Kachin State is 90 percent Christian and has been beset by sporadic fighting for several decades. More than 100,000 people remain displaced in Kachin and neighboring Shan states after being driven from their homes since fighting resumed in 2011.

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