KNU Opening Liaison Office in Three Pagodas Pass

By Saw Yan Naing 14 May 2012

As implementation of a bilateral ceasefire agreement continues, the Karen National Union (KNU) has announced that on Tuesday it will open a liaison office in Three Pagodas Pass in southern Karen State in order to facilitate steps relating to the ceasefire process.

It becomes the third liaison office opened by the KNU in recent weeks in collusion with the Burmese army. The other two liaison offices—one in Kyaukkyi in Pegu Division and the other in Dawei in Tenasserim Division—opened in early April.

Saw Kwe Htoo Win, a spokesperson for the KNU peace delegation, said that the KNU is now focusing on the implementation of the ceasefire process, and that the liaison offices will serve as communication points to ensure no more fighting erupts between Burmese government forces and KNU troops.

“We are opening these offices so we can inform each other in advance about the movement of our troops to ensure we don’t mistakenly shoot at each other,” said Saw Kwe Htoo Win, adding that more liaison offices are expected to open in the future.

The KNU liaison office works in cooperation with ethnic Karen relief groups such as the Karen Office of Relief and Development (KORD) and the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP). An international body called Norwegian Initiative is also cooperating, as well as financing the liaison office venture.

NGO sources said that the Norwegian Initiative is currently assessing the situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kyaukkyi District. Based on the findings of a needs analysis, it will then work with armed ethnic groups, the Burmese government, international and local NGOs, and Community-based Organizations to support projects that provide dividends for people living in areas affected by armed conflict.

“Some IDPs want to return home. Some however prefer to remain in their hiding places out of safety concerns,” said Saw Kwe Htoo Win. “That’s why we are conducting an assessment over this matter.”