Friday, December 9, 2011

China tells Kachin refugees: go home

Friday, 09 December 2011 22:16 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Chinese authorities on Friday told Kachin war refugees in La Ying in Yunnan Province to return to Burma.

Four Chinese officials came to a camp located opposite Momauk Township in Kachin State where more than 2,000 Kachin refugees stay and told them to return home, according to Dwe P Sar, a civilian official with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) relief committee.

A temporary camp for Kachin refugees who have fled from the renewed fighting by the government and Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State. Photo: Human Rights Watch

“We replied that the villagers were just taking refuge at their relative’s home for security reasons, and they would decide by themselves whether they returned home or not,” said Dwe P Sar.

Refugees in camps in Laiza, Mai Ja Yang and Manwin on the Sino-Burmese border now number about 45,000, he said.

Friday marks six months since the fighting between the KIO and the government started. In the past six months, there were more than 800 battles between the KIO and government troops, according to the KIO.

“Up until now, we’ve supported the refugees as much as we can. Now, the number of refugees is increasing. If we don’t get international aid, we’ll start to worry,” Dwe P Sar said.

Most of the relief aid has come from religious organizations, the Kachin in Burma and in foreign countries and businessmen. The Burmese government has not allowed help from local NGOs and international organizations, according to local aid workers.

Many refugees are frustrated, said one aid worker. “They have run out of food because not enough organizations help. As time goes by, they feel upset. They don’t want to stay here. So, they hope for peace. They thought that the fighting would be for a short time, but now we need to make plans for the long run,” he told Mizzima.

In November, the KIO and the government held peace talks, but they have failed to reach agreement.

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