The four days of heavy fighting between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Burma’s northeast Shan State has produced over 20,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to IDP assistance groups.
Most IDPs are mothers and their children as well as elderly men and women who are fleeing to nearby towns, churches and the China border, leaving behind their homes, livestock, paddy fields, land and crops, sources said.
Most IDPs are in the area under control of the KIA’s Brigade 4 in Kutkai and Muse townships in Northern Shan State, which became war zones Sept. 24.
KIA Brigade officers said there are over 5,000 households with over 250,000 people in the area. They are mainly ethnic Kachins and Shans, said KIA officials.
Most schools in the war zone have been closed since Sept. 24.
Currently, less than 1,000 IDPs have been sheltered in Kachin churches and with relatives in the major towns in Northern Shan State like Kutkai, Nampaka, Nam-um, Mongpaw (Mungbaw), Kyukok (Pangsai) and Muse. Most IDPs are on the move and hiding in nearby forests, IDPs said.
Some are fleeing to Pangsai and Mongkoe but they are prevented from crossing into China by both Burmese police and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and Border Guard Force, said sources in the two border towns.
A large number of IDPs are coming from Northern Shan State after government troops fired hundreds of 120 mm mortar rounds daily into the KIA bases and villages in the controlled areas since Sept. 24, according to IDPs in Kyukok (Pangsai).
In Nam-um, Nampaka and Kyukok (Pangsai), IDPs are supported by churches and local people.
Currently, about 100 IDPs are taking shelter in the Kachin Baptist Church in government-controlled Nam-um. However, IDPs have had their National Registration Cards (NRCs) checked by the government authorities. So, some IDPs in the church have moved to their relative’s homes in the town, IDPs in the church said.
In Kachin State, there has been an on-going civil war between the Burma Army and KIA since June and over 30,000 Kachin IDPs have fled to the camps in KIA controlled areas, near the China border and to government-controlled towns.
In Kachin State, IDPs in both KIA and government controlled areas are being supported by NGOs and churches and Kachin communities overseas.
Until now, IDPs in northern Shan State have not received any aid from the Burmese government or non-governmental organizations, church leaders said.
There is no sign of an end to the war in Northern Shan State and thousands of IDPs from the controlled area of KIA Brigade 4 are expected to be come out soon, said the KIA brigade officials. kng ews