Almost 7,000 people belonging to the largely Christian minority group in Kachin, northern Myanmar, have fled their houses since fighting between the army and a rebel group flared up in early April, according to recent figures from the Red Cross.
“It’s a war where civilians are being systematically targeted by members of Burma Army … [yet] the international community chooses to overlook it,” political analyst and writer Stella Naw told the UK’s Guardian newspaper [on Monday], with international attention on Myanmar focused on the humanitarian crisis facing the country’s Rohingya Muslims.
Thousands of lives have been lost and at least 120,000 people have been displaced in the decades-long conflict between the army and the Kachin Independence Army since the military seized control of the country in 1962.
“It is an invisible war,” said San Htoi, the joint secretary of Kachin Women’s Association Thailand. She told the Guardian that on a recent visit representatives of the United Nations Security Council went only to Rakhine state and “left the country without knowing [about Kachin].”
And according to Thomas Muller, an Asia analyst for Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians who live under pressure for their faith, it is unlikely the situation will garner more attention “since Myanmar is increasingly coming under economic and political influence from China, its big neighbor.”
“China tacitly supports the large Wa minority in Myanmar, and can effectively veto any inquiry into the situation of any minority, let alone any improvements or measures to bring the civil war to an end,” Muller added.
Following the bombing of a mission school in the state on Saturday, Hkun Htoy Layang of Kachin Relief Fund told Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “It is outrageous that the Burma army targets a Kachin Baptist mission school. We are very concerned that the Burma army is targeting more civilians throughout Kachin State, with impunity.”
Trapped in a Warzone
Yanghee Lee, the U.N.’s human rights expert for Myanmar, raised alarm over the increase in violence in Kachin in her March report to the Human Rights Council.
Last week she called for an immediate end to the fighting, saying, “What we are seeing in Kachin state over the past few weeks is wholly unacceptable, and must stop immediately. Innocent civilians are being killed and injured, and hundreds of families are now fleeing for their lives.”
Internally displaced people gather at a church in Myitkyina, Kachin state’s capital, on 10 May.
More than 400 displaced civilians arrived in Kachin’s capital city, Myitkyina, last Wednesday, where there were already more than 4,000 other displaced people, a Red Cross spokesperson told Radio Free Asia.
Many of them have traveled long distances on foot, making their way through the forest, and ending up seeking help at local churches or existing camps for internally displaced people. Others are staying with relatives.
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Source: Christian Post