(Mizzima) – A United Nations convoy carrying essential humanitarian items has reached some of the displaced Kachin refugees in the areas affected by the conflict in Kachin State.
“We hope that this will lead to the sustained delivery of aid by the U.N. and its humanitarian partners to the IDPs (Internally Displace Persons)," said U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ashok Nigam in Rangoon.
The UN has continuously made the case for independent humanitarian access in accordance with humanitarian principles with both the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), said U.N officials. The Burmese government has largely denied international aid groups and nongovernment groups access to the area
Last week, Human Rights Watch said in a report that some 75,000 ethnic Kachin displaced persons and refugees are in desperate need of food, medicine, and shelter.
Its 83-page report, “‘Untold Miseries’: Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Burma’s Kachin State,” described how the Burmese army has attacked Kachin villages, razed homes, pillaged properties, and forced the displacement of tens of thousands of people.
Human Rights Watch said it travelled twice to areas in Kachin State in 2011, visiting nine camps for internally displaced persons and areas in China’s Yunnan province where refugees have fled, and has continued to monitor the situation. The report is based on more than 100 interviews with displaced persons, refugees, and victims of abuses, as well as Kachin rebels, Burmese army deserters, and relief workers, it said.
The Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) need to take effective measures to end abuses by their forces, ensure humanitarian access, and permit an independent international mechanism to investigate abuses by all sides, Human Rights Watch said.
Of the 75,000 Kachin civilians displaced since June, at least 45,000 have sought refuge in 30 camps for internally displaced persons in Kachin Independence Army-controlled territory along the Burma-China border, the report said.
The Burmese government has only granted UN agencies access to this area once, in December. Even then, UN agencies were not able to visit several areas where tens of thousands of displaced persons reside. In areas it controls, the Kachin Independence Army and networks of local Kachin organizations have tried to meet growing humanitarian needs, but international support for civilian-relief organizations operating out of Kachin State has been sporadic and inadequate, the report said.
Humanitarian needs of displaced persons in Kachin State include food and other necessities, such as medicine, blankets, warm clothing, firewood and fuel, and adequate shelter.
The worsening situation in Kachin State contrasts starkly with hopeful human rights developments in lowland Burma in recent months, including the release of prominent political prisoners, a spate of legal reforms, and greater media freedom.
“There’s still a long way to go before the people of Burma, particularly those in conflict areas, benefit from recent promises of reform,” a HRW official said. “The international community should not become complacent about the serious human rights violations still plaguing Burma.”
For a summary of the report and recommendations, go to http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/03/20/untold-miseries