About 70 Flee After Stray Fire Near Kachin IDP Camp

By Lawi Weng 1 September 2015

RANGOON — Stray fire near a displacement camp in Kachin State has caused about 70 people to flee to another shelter, according to a local religious charity providing aid for conflict-affected civilians.

A communications officer for the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the internally displaced persons (IDPs) had all been moved to the Jara Yang camp in the jungles of Sumprabum Township from one of the area’s two other displacement sites as a result of recent fighting between the government troops and ethnic rebels.

“[The Burma Army] stay some distance from the IDPs, but they shot into the area near the IDPs from a distance,” said KBC’s Lama Yaw, who said he believed the munitions were artillery rounds. “We had to relocate them because they were not safe there.”

Lama Yaw said the group is still concerned that aid delivery could be obstructed by the conflict, as has happened in the recent past, but that the relocation was successful and “they are all safe at the moment.”

The Burma Army could not be immediately reached for comment, despite a pledge to make military communications officers available for press inquiries.

The resource-rich northern state has been the site of some of Burma’s most severe civil conflict since the breakdown of a 17-year ceasefire between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in 2011.

The KIA, which currently does not have a bilateral accord with the government, is party to negotiations geared toward a nationwide peace deal that the current administration would like to see signed before a landmark election to be held on Nov. 8.

Fighting escalated last week in Suprabum and northern Shan State, despite a forthcoming meeting between ethnic representatives, President Thein Sein and Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing. The Kachin Independence Organization, the political wing of the KIA, is among five ethnic armed groups to be represented at the discussion to be held on Sept. 9 in Naypyidaw.