3,000 flee Kachin for China

EMG reporter

About 3,000 refugees in two camps near the border in Kachin State have fled to China after government troops seized two Kachin Independence Army (KIA) outposts.

The military took the major KIA positions, Gidon on December 16 and Laiphoun on December 27.

Civilians at the camps said that the military’s heavy artillery shells dropped near the camps amid ongoing attacks.

Zai Aung and Magatyan camps have housed more than 7,000 refugees and are supported by the Kachin Baptist Convention, according to its secretary Dr Klam Sanswan.

He said: “The skirmishes took place with the No.3 battalion of the KIA called Ngarjan. Zai Aung camp is just a 30-minute walk from the battalion. Since the government’s troops are getting near, the refugees fled to China. The Chinese government at first was not pleased. But I’ve heard that the KIO [Kachin Independence Organisation] made a phone call to the Chinese government and refugees from Zai Aung camp have taken shelter there for the time being.”

He added that refugees from Magatyan camp had not moved to China.

“Most refugees do not have national identity cards. We struggle to provide them. The refugees in the two camps totalled more than 7,000.”

The military has been battling Kachin rebels on the Inkayan Range for four months.

Colonel Nawli of the KIO technical consultant office said that clashes happened almost every day and the KIA remained on the defensive, awaiting further instructions from the KIO central.

The defence services’ Northern Command was not available for comment.

After the National League for Democracy took office, the clashes between the military and Kachin rebels began in Nantsanyan village in May 2016. The armed conflict spread to Hpakant and Mansi.

The Northern Command said it was combating illegal logging, kidnappings, extortion and bombing and clashes broke out when the KIA was confronted. The KIO said its forces had to fight because the government troops invaded its land.

Translated by Nay Thiha