Thousands of displaced people in Kachin State received only four percent of their basic food needs from international relief groups over the last 15 months, according to a new report.
“From Persecution to Deprivation” was published by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) on Tuesday and contains detailed accounts of the desperate plight of civilians displaced by the ethnic conflict in northernmost Burma.
The report calls on the Naypyidaw government to allow international aid organizations access to the 60,000 or so vulnerable displaced people living in around two dozen camps controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) along the Sino-Burmese border.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Moon Nay Li, the coordinator of KWAT, said, “The refugees are not even getting enough food aid as the Burmese government does not allow international aids group into the border areas.
“Most of the families rely on boiled rice to feed themselves,” she added. “The UN and INGOs provided around four percent of the total needs of the displaced during the 15 months from June 2011 to August 2012.”
The KWAT, which has been closely documenting the needs of displaced people since a 17-year ceasefire between Naypyidaw and the KIA broke down in June last year, has members working in war-torn areas including the rebel strongholds of Mai Ja Yang and Laiza.
The group said that child malnutrition and malaria outbreaks are common as they do not have access to adequate food or medicine. The report also highlighted human rights violations including more than 60 sexual abuse cases of which half the victims died from injuries suffered over the course of the 15 months.
“Government troops violate the displaced by accusing them of being KIA supporters,” added Moon Nay Li. “But displaced Kachin in the KIA-controlled areas do not have to suffer these kinds of tortures.”
According to the report, there are around 100,000 people displaced by the fighting with around 60 percent in rebel-controlled camps. The KIA and government’s peace committee have not met for formal talks in recent months as they have not been able to agree on a venue.
Clashes have escalated over the past year as the Burmese armed forces have deployed more troops in rebel areas. President Thein Sein said during an interview with the BBC in the United States on Saturday that government troops follow orders but the fighting continues as the KIA does not instruct its soldiers to stop. The former general also insisted that there are no human right abuses as the government acts in accordance with the law.
Meanwhile, three fresh clashes reportedly broke out between government troops and the KIA and Taaung National Liberation Army (TNLA) alliance in Kutkai and Nanshan townships, northern Shan State, on Monday and Tuesday. No casualties have been reported so far.
“We made a decision to avoid fighting Burmese troops as much as we can and we just focus on organizing our local people to be united and aware of drugs problems,” said Maj Mai Bhone Kyaw, general-secretary of the TNLA.
“But they deployed more troops near our bases and were launching more and more military offensives,” he added. “We, the TNLA, have to defend our people from this insecure situation and narcotics problems.”