Humanitarian situation deteriorates in Myanmar’s southern Kachin state and northern Shan state [EN/MY]

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 16 May 2014
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Renewed clashes displace over 3,000 people since early April 2014

(Yangon, 16 May 2014): Humanitarian organisations remain seriously concerned by an increase in insecurity and the displacement of thousands of people over the past weeks in southern Kachin State and northern Shan State. Fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) broke out on 10 April 2014 in Man Win Gyi in southern Kachin State. Security incidents have been reported regularly in the area over the past month, making humanitarian access increasingly difficult and raising concerns for the protection of civilians trapped along the borders of China, Kachin State, and Shan State.

The deteriorating security situation has affected several villages and camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the area, causing over 2,700 people to leave their homes and an unconfirmed number of people to flee across the border into neighbouring China. Clashes also erupted in the area of Muse in northern Shan State on 30 April and caused the displacement of more than 600 people. Fighting in both areas subsided over the past week while talks were held in Myitkyina between the Union Peace-Making Work Committee and the Kachin Independence Organisation.

Local NGOs represented by the Joint Strategy Team for Humanitarian Response in Kachin and Northern Shan States declare that: “We urge all parties to cease all hostilities in close proximity to IDP camps and villages and call upon them to respect international humanitarian laws and human rights. The distinction between civilians and combatants must be observed and precautions must be taken to avoid civilian casualties and the further displacement of people.”

International organisations are supporting local NGOs in the humanitarian response to meet urgent needs such as food, drinkable water, emergency latrines, and tents. However, securing areas of land to build temporary shelters remains a key challenge. There are particular concerns for the safety and security of several hundred people who temporarily returned to Lagat Yang camp in Kachin State, but who were again forced to move due to security concerns.

"The support brought by humanitarian agencies has enabled aid to reach thousands of people, some of whom have been displaced for the second or third time,” said Florent Turc, Field Coordinator for Solidarités International in Kachin. “The approaching rainy season will bring higher risks of flooding and water-borne diseases, so water, sanitation, and hygiene will increasingly be a priority in humanitarian interventions over the next weeks. The deteriorating security situation is already hampering access to the affected areas and the poor conditions of the roads during the rainy season will make it even more difficult to respond from now on.”

Since June 2011, fighting between the Myanmar Army and the KIA has displaced more than 100,000 people who now live in IDP camps and host communities on both sides of the frontline. Some 96,000 people currently remain displaced from their homes and are accommodated in over 160 different locations and host communities. Over 50 per cent of the displaced are housed in camps located in areas beyond government control.

“Since the beginning of the conflict, local organisations have been at the forefront of the humanitarian effort in Kachin, covering the most urgent needs within the displaced and affected communities,” said Mark Cutts, Head of Office for OCHA in Myanmar. “We are pleased that international organisations have been able to conduct periodic joint missions across frontlines more regularly since September 2013, but in the long run we need full and sustained access by international actors to all affected communities to adequately support the response of local humanitarian NGOs.”

Notes:

The Joint Strategy Team for Humanitarian Response in Kachin and Northern Shan States is composed of BRIDGE, Kachin Baptist Convention, Kachin Development Group, Kachin Relief and Development Committee, Kachin Women’s Association, Karuna Myanmar Social Services, Metta Development Foundation, Shalom Foundation, and Wunpawng Ninghtoi. Local NGOs estimate that they will require $25 million in 2014 in order to fund their Joint Strategy for Humanitarian Response in Kachin and Northern Shan States.

International NGOs and UN agencies responding to the humanitarian crisis in Kachin and Shan States include the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Oxfam, Save the Children, Solidarités International, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP). OCHA is coordinating humanitarian responses at local and national level. The 2014 Myanmar Humanitarian Strategy calls for $192 million and is currently funded by 29%.

For further information, please contact: Pierre Péron OCHA Myanmar, peronp@un.org, Mobile +95 (0) 9250198997

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.