Burma Army Torches Kachin IDP Camp

By Nyein Nyein 30 November 2012

A temporary displacement camp was set ablaze by Burmese government troops in Muse Township, northern Shan State, on Wednesday, according to the head of the Kachin Relief and Development Committee (KRDC).

Doi Pi Sa, the chairman of the KRDC, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that all of the temporary houses were destroyed but there were no reports of casualties because the inhabitants had returned to their nearby villages a month ago.

“Burmese troops from Infantry Battalion No. 240 destroyed and burned the temporary camp which is used as a standby facility for Kachin civilians to flee to when fighting occurs,” he said.

The shelter is located between Pangsai and Mongko townships close to the Sino-Burmese border. Around 20 homes were torched at the camp, which was last used when fighting erupted in the area two months ago.

The KRDC, which is supported by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), monitors around 40 camps for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in rebel-controlled areas.

Local residents say fighting has been ongoing in the region ever since a 17-year ceasefire between the KIO and central government broke down in June last year. Larger numbers of Burma Army troops have reportedly been deployed around the KIO stronghold of Laiza in recent months.

There has also been heavy fighting in Hpakant Township, which is controlled by Brigade 2 of the Kachin Independence Army, the KIO’s military wing.

When meeting with KIO representatives last month, President’s Office Minister Aung Min, Naypyidaw’s chief peace negotiator with ethnic armed groups, promised to hold the political dialogue that the Kachin rebels have persistently demanded. Nonetheless, a ceasefire has not yet been agreed.

Due to a year-and-a-half of fierce fighting, the KRDC said around 100,000 displaced people are sheltering in areas controlled by both the KIO and Burmese government. More than 6,000 IDPs are currently taking refuge in KIO territory and have had humanitarian assistance blocked from inside the country.

“Blankets and warm clothing for the refugees are desperately needed as the weather is really cold in northern Burma,” said Doi Pi Sa. The KRDC has been providing healthcare, shelter and relief supplies to displaced people as well as education for children.