Thursday, December 1, 2011

Free Funeral Service Society sends aid to Kachin refugees

Thursday, 01 December 2011 13:39 Tun Tun

New Delhi (Mizzima) – To help cut the winter cold, the Rangoon- based Free Funeral Service Society [FFSS] has sent blankets and coats to war refugees in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State.

Large numbers of refugees displaced by the civil war live in the area surrounding Laiza, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organization. The KIO says that NGOs need to do more to help refugees, who are in need of clothing, food and other items. Photo: Mizzima

“We sent a lot––five or six big packages. Now, the weather is very cold. Children have suffered a lot,” Kyaw Thu, the FFSS chairman, told Mizzima.

Temperatures have dropped below four degrees Centigrade in the area, according to state-run newspaper. Residents in Maijayang said it recently had a snowfall and heavy winds.

The aid will be dispatched to refugees camps in Myitkyina and Waimaw.

“We cannot go to the border. If we went, we could encounter problems. We can’t go beyond a limited area. If we went beyond that area, we might be charged with political acts,” Kyaw Thu said.

The Mandalay-based Bawa Ahlin charity group and the Rangoon-based “88-generation student group” said they would travel to Kachin State to make donations.

In Maijayang, an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), an estimated 800 people suffer from lung ailments, refugee sources said. Thousands of refugees are living in six camps in Maijayang on the Sino-Burmese border.

Mai Ja, a member of the Thailand-based Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand (KWAT), told Mizzima: “Most of them suffer from coughs. They sleep on mats on cement floors. They’re cold, especially children and the elderly.”

Recent clashes between government troops and the KIO have increased the number of war refugees, which now number more than 40,000 across Kachin State, according to estimates by the  KIO relief committee.

On Monday, residents fled fighting in Balaungdainsa, located between Bhamo and Muse, in southeast Kachin State.

“Mostly, they cannot stay in their villages. They have to build huts in the jungles. Now it’s winter. Everyone suffers from the cold,” said Dwe P. Sar, a civilian official with the KIO relief committee.

Since early July, residents say that local NGOs have been reluctant to aid refugees because of warnings from the government.

Mai Ja said, “We want the government to stop hindering aid workers. The government should help people not make trouble for them.”

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