Fleeing violence in their home village, two families from the predominantly Christian Kachin state in northern Myanmar survived two months in a forest and had to cross over a landmine-ridden terrain before they were finally able to find refuge at a Baptist church.
As violence against the Kachin people and its Christian community has increased in the past several months while clashes between the government and the Kachin Independence Army has picked up, as many as 130,000 have fled from their homes and are now living in churches throughout the state that have been turned into makeshift displacement camps.
In April, it was reported that over 2,000 people from the Tanai Township were forced to flee their homes and were trapped in the nearby forest when fighting broke out in areas around the villages of Sut Yang, Sut Ya and Awng Lawt.
Burma News International reported Thursday that nine displaced people from the village of Awng Lawt arrived at a displacement camp in the Kachin capital of Myitkyina at the end of June after hiding in the forest for two months.
Among those reported in the group were members of two families. The oldest was a 70-year-old woman and the youngest were two 8-year-old children.
Daw Labya Htu San, one of the people in the group, told the independent news agency that it took so long for the group to arrive at the Jaw Masat Kachin Baptist Church displacement camp because they were unfamiliar with the roads and encountered Myanmar military troops on the way.
“We ran in the direction of [mountain] Maji Bum but we met a group of IDPs who were coming down the mountain at Sani Chaungzone. We spent a week at the In Sant Creek with them after the government army arrived in that direction,” Daw said. “We had to cross between the landmines as if we were planting paddies on the road even though we were scared.”
Daw explained that they also had to deal with flooding and said that leeches got stuck to their bodies.
“[W]e faced many difficulties,” she said. “When we heard that the [army] troops left the Maji Bum, we went back there.
But while the group was there, Tinghpang Naw Ja, a member of the group who was about 35 years old, was arrested on May 20 while he was coming back from Ka Phan Creek. The group went to the village to look for him but had no luck. The group has not heard from Tinghpang since he was detained.
“We didn’t hear any news about him so we held a prayer ceremony for him,” Daw said.
The nine from Awng Lawt have joined thousands of other displaced Kachin people, 95 percent of whom are Christian, in taking refuge at Kachin Baptist Churches.
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Source: Christian Post