The conflict between the Myanmar Military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has escalated in several areas in Kachin State since 19 January 2018, including in Sumprabum, Tanai, and Waingmaw townships. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are concerned about the safety of civilians in these areas. Every effort needs to be made to ensure the protection of civilians and safe access to humanitarian assistance for all those affected by the conflict.
The Tanai area has seen heavy fighting since the 25 January 2018. There have been reports of a number of civilians killed or injured. The United Nations has not had access to independently verify these reports. Latest reports from humanitarian partners indicate that about 1,800 people have been evacuated from the area as a result of the fighting. These are mostly labourers who have been assisted to return to their places of origin. Humanitarian partners are concerned about reports of other civilians still in the conflict-affected area that have not been able to leave. There are also reports of food shortages affecting people still in the area. Local humanitarian organizations are responding to immediate humanitarian needs with existing supplies as people arrive in safe areas in Tanai Town. Humanitarian access to the Tanai area has been severely restricted since June 2017 when there were a number of armed clashes. About 900 people who were displaced by the armed clashes in 2017 are still sheltering in four different church sites in Tanai Town.
Fighting that erupted in Sumprabum Township on 22 January displaced more than 700 people, according to humanitarian partners. Most of these people remain displaced and are sheltering in the forest. People displaced by the armed clashes include some 500 people from Ndup Yang IDP camp who fled after mortar shells reportedly landed near to the camp, as well as people from Nhtan Zup, Lawt Mai Yang and Zup Ra Yang villages. Humanitarian access to the area remains restricted, including via water-ways. A major bridge on the road to Sumprabum has reportedly been destroyed, which could further impede access. Local organizations report that they have sufficient humanitarian supplies and that they are ready to provide assistance once there is safe access.
On 27 January, a number of mortar shells landed close to Mung Lai Hkyet, which is an extension of the Woi Chyai IDP camp, near Laiza. This is the third time that mortar shells have landed close to Mung Lai Hkyet since mid-December 2017.
United Nations staff have not been granted access to Laiza, Sumprabum or Tanai and have not therefore been able to independently verify information and displacement figures. The United Nations continues to call on all sides to ensure the protection of civilians, in line with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners also continue to offer their support in meeting the humanitarian assistance and protection needs of all conflict-affected civilians.
Sources: JST, OCHA, GAD