UN Concerned by Reports Army is Using Aid Convoys to Reinforce Troops

A Red Cross aid vehicle parked in Laiza, Kachin State, in February. (Photo: Maran Naw)

A spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the world body is concerned by reports that Burma’s military took advantage of recent UN aid convoys in Kachin State to reinforce troops involved in the fight against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

The allegations first appeared in an article published in the Myanmar Times on Monday which quoted from an internal UN memo.

The memo, written by a senior UN official involved in the UN’s relief program in Kachin State, recounted seeing “trucks with government soldiers taking advantage of the passage of the aid convoy to take new positions” in February while the UN was sending aid to the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin State.

Asked by The Irrawaddy to respond to the information contained in the memo, Eri Kaneko of the Secretary General’s Office said her department was unaware of the specific report before adding, “We are always very concerned when we hear reports of UN principles concerning humanitarian delivery not being respected.”

A statement emailed by Kaneko said: “In negotiations to gain humanitarian access, the UN has been very clear with both the Government and the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO): aid is only provided following firm assurances for the safety of staff and its operations. The UN provides aid in strict accordance with its humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality.”

From Feb. 17 to Feb. 23, a UN-led aid convoy carried desperately needed humanitarian supplies to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Hpakant. This was the first convoy of its kind to reach Hpakant since January last year. The UN says there are at least 17 camps in the Hpakant area sheltering more than 6,000 IDPs.

An ethnic Kachin jade dealer from Hpakant corroborated the allegations contained in the memo.

The dealer, who refused to give his name for security reasons, said it was well known in Hpakant that the army had taken advantage of the fact that the KIO was allowing UN aid to pass through unimpeded and used the opening granted to the UN to resupply and reinforce government positions in the area.

According to the jade dealer, the army has taken a large section of Hpakant from the KIO since January but the military’s grip appears very tenuous.

Located in western Kachin State, the Hpakant area is often called the world’s only major source of true jadeite, which is distinct from other jade because of its vivid green hues and translucence, making it a highly sought after commodity. The majority of jade mined in Hpakant goes to China with the rest largely going to other markets in Asia.

For much of the KIO’s 1961 to 1993 conflict with Burma’s central government, Kachin forces controlled the bulk of Hpakant’s jade mines, earning the KIO a steady stream of revenue. After the 1994 ceasefire agreement the KIO largely ceased taxing the industry.

During the 17-year-long Kachin ceasefire, royalties from the jade trade provided huge sums for the Burmese government, and according to official statistics the sale of jade and other gems was often the third-largest annual earner for the regime after natural gas and timber sales.

Most of Burma’s major tycoons including Tay Za of Htoo Trading and Zaw Zaw of Max Myanmar are said to have substantial business interests in Hpakant’s jade mines. Kyaing Kyaing, the wife of the officially retired strongman Snr-Gen Than Shwe, is also believed to have a financial stake in Hpakant’s jade mines.


8 Responses to UN Concerned by Reports Army is Using Aid Convoys to Reinforce Troops

  1. Blood jade rears its ugly head as one of my best students highlighted Khun Sam. Hands off Kachin peoples resources and lives?

  2. Hey, Irrawaddy! Saying ill of A Ba Shwe!!! What- changing side already? ( By the way those lines in last paragraph are non-news, right?)

    Reckon Thein Sein might not win in the long run?

    Is UN preparing to change side after one and a half years of shamelessly (usual UN standard) greasing the Resource Holding Thugs on behalf of their paymasters, International Corporations?

    Is it, sucking up Thein Sein fronted Gun-holders of Burma getting so obvious and odious??

    Never-mind! Keep on sucking up the Thein Sein gang. They will win. Just give them some more guns, Just like in Syria. Screw the public of Burma – be they Kachin, Karen or Mon or Latpadaung Bamar. Screw them all. Take their land, rivers, gems. Take all. Screw them. UN must always collude with the money people. Do not- repeat do not- break the tradition.

  3. The always do it this way. Before, the use the helicopter provided by UN to carry military supply in Karen State.

  4. People are watching. If government exploit Aid Convoys to reinforce Burmese soldiers into Kachin State, the government will reap its cleverness.

  5. “Most of Burma’s major tycoons including Tay Za of Htoo Trading and Zaw Zaw of Max Myanmar are said to have substantial business interests in Hpakant’s jade mines. Kyaing Kyaing, the wife of the officially retired strongman Snr-Gen Than Shwe, is also believed to have a financial stake in Hpakant’s jade mines.”
    The above is the only reason for bama military thugs to kill kachin for Kachin’s jade. DASSK said she has no power to control as well as no breath for speak out about killing Kachin with the above reason. Bama military thugs forever can not win the people power of Kachin in this war.

    • It is not fair fight between bama military thugs and Kachin heroes. However, why there are many thura, theha or rubbish titles in Bama military thugs

    • They kill on one hand and they buy the leadership out with money, positions, their own little impunity, fame anything. Now that both “Western world” and the Eastern World is united in preparation in this FEAST OF THE CENTURY, Hla Maung Shwe bagman is awash with money and the Sit-tut is full of usual BS. Both Saskawa and Soros seem keen in rare united Jew/ Fascist double act to fund the pay out as well.

      GREED is the biggest enemy, not those stupid loud and useless Russian piloted jets.

  6. Those people will become demons right upon their death to guard the jade mines that they desperately want to possess. =]

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