Skirmishes in Kachin State continue despite President Thein Sein’s order to the military to stop offensives on December 10 last year, affected residents noted. Confrontations between the military and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) have displaced locals and affected their livelihood.
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) reached about 50,000 at the refugee camps in Kachin State by end-2011. International organisations estimated the number of civil war refugees at about 100,000. Some IDPs who fled to China were forced to return to Myanmar in August after Chinese authorities rejected them.
“The situation has become more confused as it is being handled militarily, instead of politically. If the government is willing, the issue could be addressed within a day. But I think they have prolonged it as they are not willing. The constitution and laws must guarantee rights for national races. The constitution must also guarantee genuine democracy and federal system as well as autonomy for the regions of national races. We should discuss this in detail beyond the parliament,” said Daw Khun Gyar of the Kachin Peace Network.
While the army did not launch offensives against the KIA following the president’s directive, they had to ensure that security in the area was implemented.
According to locals, about 2,000 skirmishes have occurred between the military and KIA as of June this year. “A two-year period of suspension for the education of local children is like harming the future of one generation. About 30,000 houses and buildings have been destroyed. It will take years to go back to normal for the region. Many acres of land are unproductive. Low production plus expenses for feeding war victims are a burden to the state. Innocent people have died of curable diseases while children under three are dying from malnutrition. There is only a bleak future for autistic children. More than 100,000 people are living in dire need of help without food and water. It will be very difficult to rehabilitate them. Their future is in complete darkness,” said Daw Khun Gyar.