UN Allowed to Help Kachin Civilians in Rebel Areas

UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Burma Vjay Nambia visits Ja Mai Kaung refugee camp in Myitkyina on Feb. 5, 2013. (Photo: Kachin Waves / Facebook)

UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Burma Vjay Nambia visits Ja Mai Kaung refugee camp in Myitkyina on Feb. 5, 2013. (Photo: Kachin Waves / Facebook)

Burma’s government will finally let the UN and international aid groups access all displaced civilians in war-torn Kachin State in northern Burma, a government official said on Tuesday. It had previously blocked international relief from reaching thousands of civilians in rebel-held areas.

The announcement came several hours after the government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) agreed to cease their fighting and pursue peace talks after holding a meeting in China’s Yunnan Province on Monday.

Ye Htut, a spokesperson for President Thein Sein, said on Tuesday evening that the UN and international aid groups would be allowed to start relief operations in all internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Kachin State.

“The president in principle, agreed to let INGOs provide aid,” he said, adding that relief agencies and the government would still need to discuss how to ensure security for aid workers in IDP camps in government and rebel-controlled areas.

“We will work with them in accordance with their security protocol, to provide aid in whichever camp and to whatever group,” Ye Htut wrote in an email, adding that “no [starting] date has been determined.”

In recent months, the government repeatedly turned down requests by the UN, the US and the UK to allow international aid to reach IDP camps in KIA-controlled areas. Naypyidaw claimed it could not guarantee the safety of aid workers.

Local Kachin non-governmental organizations have cared for the IDPs instead, but these NGOs only have limited supplies. Some international aid reached the NGOs via China but in recent months this support dried up.

The groups warned that they could only provide rice, cooking oil and blankets, but that meat and medicine were in short supply. Recent outbreaks of diarrhea in some rebel-controlled camps affected 100 children, killing at least three infants.

According to UN estimates from December, some 45,000 IDPs are living in more than a dozen camps in rebel-held areas along the border with China, while another 30,000 Kachin live in government-controlled camps further south. Most have stayed in the camps for many months, following the breakdown of a 17-year-old ceasefire between the government and the KIA in June 2011.

Transport of goods and people to some Kachin towns such as Putao, has also been cut off because of the fighting and local food stocks are running low.

The UN’s World Food Program had been able to conduct operations in some government-controlled IDP camps.

On Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Burma Vjay Nambia visited government-controlled camps at Kachin State capital Myitkyina and at Waimaw, in order to assess the situation on the ground.

He was travelling with Immigration Minister Khin Ye  and president office minister Soe Thein, according to Manam Tu Ja, a local Kachin politician.

“Mr. Nambia said he was pleased to meet residents of Myitkyina and to learn about the displaced in the IDP camps,” Manam Tu Ja said. “He said the government peace team’s implementation of the peace process would be successful and we would work together in the region.”

5 Responses to UN Allowed to Help Kachin Civilians in Rebel Areas

  1. Burmese government said they can’t guarantee the safety of aid workers! How pathetic, when KIA can guarantees safety of aid workers from their side. What Burmese government is saying is that they can’t guarantee what direction their bullets will fly! Because, they don’t distinguish enemy, civilians or aid workers!

  2. When things are going normal, we the people are happy. When the people are happy, the government has good reputation. So, serving the people serves the government. That’s win-win situation.

  3. So this donkey, right, it was carrying a load. But it resisted at times and each time it did, the driver put on one more stone on the back. Once it stopped resisting, the stones were taken off one after another to the great delight and joy of the animal.

    The fact is there should have been NO stone put on in the very first place.

    Still Nambier is fitting here. He is last person to be labelled human on earth, and also carries the label of most corrupt and useless organization, the United Nations of American Pageboys.

    International Aid, my foot.

    In human world there would have been International Condemnation of their murderous Business partners- the Bamar Sit-tut of Than Shwe without whose inhumane actions there would have no displaced person to rescue, minding their own fields only short months ago.

    Wake up humanoids! Next time it will be YOU!

  4. Under the International Laws, do they allow any government the right to deny any humanitarian assistance to IDPs under any pretense, despite the victims suffering from hunger, disease and cold, especially the old and children? NGOs need to raise them with the world bodies; otherwise, it will be a repetition of international assistance aftermath of Cyclone Nagis.

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