Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ban calls for truce in Burma’s Kachin conflict

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:39 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an end to fighting in Kachin State and access to the refugees in the war zone.

“The Kachin people should no longer be denied the opportunity that a cease-fire and a political agreement can bring for peace and development,” Ban said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Burmese Parliament on Monday, April 30, 2012. Photo: Mizzima

Burma’s government has uccessfully completed cease-fire agreements with all of the significant ethnic armed groups with the exception of the Kachin Independence Organization, which has broken off peace talks saying it no longer trusts the government.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by clashes between government troops and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) guerillas.

Recently, the U.N. was allowed to distribute a small amount of food and material to KIA camps in the war zone where an estimated 50,000 refugees may have been displaced due to the fighting. Conditions are expected to become even more desperate as the rain season begins.

“Let me acknowledge the humanitarian access that we now have in Kachin State. That access must continue,” Ban told legislators.

Burma's official media has blamed KIO “hardliners” for the stalemate in peace talks. The government reshuffled its peacemaking team this week, appointing a vice president, legislators and military officers to the new negotiating team.

On Monday, the New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper, accused the rebels of firing heavy weapons into a village, killing a five-year-old child and injuring two persons as well as planting a mine that derailed a passenger train, injuring two men.

On Sunday, the newspaper reported that an armed group killed four officials in an assault on a government office in Waingmaw Township that also left three people missing. On Wednesday, the KIA told Mizzima that it was not involved in the attack.

In a separate incident involving heavy weapons fire in another area, 200 KIA fighters were said to have captured vehicles belonging to a Burmese construction giant linked to a Chinese company working at one of the dam sites on the Irrawaddy River.

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