Thursday, January 3, 2013

UN Sec-Gen calls for humanitarian access in Kachin conflict zone

Thursday, 03 January 2013 12:02 Mizzima News

United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on the Burmese government to ensure that civilians’ lives were not endangered and allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid into the conflict zone in Kachin State after a week of ground assaults and air strikes on Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) positions.

“While details of these reports are still emerging and being closely followed, the Secretary-General calls upon the Myanmar [Burmese] authorities to desist from any action that could endanger the lives of civilians living in the area or further intensify the conflict in the region,” said a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson.

A view inside an IDP shelter in the town of Waimaw in northern Kachin State. Some 75,000 people remain displaced more than 16 months after a 17-year-old ceasefire collapsed (Photo: Nyan Lynn/IRIN)

“The ongoing hostilities have already caused large-scale displacement of civilians who continue to be in need of humanitarian assistance,” the statement added. “It is vital that timely access be provided for the delivery of aid to vulnerable communities.”

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, spoke last month with President Thein Sein about her concerns about the lack of humanitarian access in parts of Kachin State, particularly with the onset of winter when many parts of the mountainous region reach sub-zero temperatures.

The Burmese military recently launched a major assault on the KIO’s central front line situated at Laja Yang, some eight miles south of the group’s headquarters in the town of Laiza, which has a population of more than 25,000 including many refugees who fled their villages to avoid the raging conflict.

Some 75,000 people have been reported as displaced in Kachin State and northern parts of KIO-controlled Shan State since hostilities broke out in June 2011.
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