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Update on Current Humanitarian Situation in Kachin State: New Attacks on Civilians on 3rd – 24th April 2018 More Civilians Attacked and Displaced

April 24th, 2018  •  Author:   Joint Strategy Team  •  8 minute read

1.    Situation:

Fighting between Myanmar Government Armed Forced (Tatmadaw) and Kachin Independence Organisation/Army (KIO/KIA) has continued since 3rd April 2018 and Military offensives by the Myanmar Armed Forces, involving heavy artilleries and aerial bombing have been continuing across various places in Kachin State since 11th April 2018. The situation is affecting dramatically the lives of local civilian populations causing casualties, detainments, entrapments and new displacements.

Earlier in January and February 2018, heavy fighting in the Sumprabum areas and Tanai amber mining areas left 900 villagers from sumprabum still taking refuge in the forest while trapping thousands of civilians from Tanai area in conflict affected areas for more than a week.

Efforts have been made by the church leaders, local leaders, CSOs and UN agencies that include UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for the release of civilians being detained, for obtaining humanitarian access as well as for the rescue mission to bring out the civilians who are trapped in the active conflict areas.

JST NGOs are mobilising their resources to access those affected by the displacement and entrapments and provide them with emergency humanitarian assistance while advocating for civilian protection

2.    Concrete data on the dramatic violation of Human Rights and related Humanitarian situation: Continued indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas

Fighting took place between the Tatmadaw and the KIA in Aung Nan village in Momauk Township area on 3 April. As a result, about 120 newly displaced population arrived in IDP camps in Momauk Township.

Meanwhile, six civilians from Kahtan Yang village, Kamai Sub-township in Hpakan Township have been detained since 10 April while they are working on their farms. This incident took place following the intense fighting between the Tatmadaw and the KIA nearby Dadar Nyinaung (Twin Bridge) on the way between Hpakant and Myitkyina on 6 April. 41 civillian has displaced from this incident and they need to move to the Seng Hpra village in Hpakan Township.

A series of military offensives involving heavy artillery have been happening across various places in Kachin State on 11 April 2018.

Several rounds of mortar shells landed near Laiza between 10 am to 1 pm on 11 April 2018. One of the mortar shells fell at a banana plantation site in Lawa Yang village outside of Laiza, killing one male and injuring two male civilians who were working at the plantation as daily labourers. The two civilians who sustained injuries are currently being treated at the Laiza hospital.

A few mortar shells also landed near Pajau village, northern part of  Laiza  area  between 2 pm and 4 pm today. This prompted the civilians in the area to evacuate to the Chinese side of the border for a few hours. As of late evening of 11 April, most of them are back in their houses, while some are still staying in the houses close to Chinese border. No civilian casualty has been reported from this incident.

Around 2 pm, a number of mortar shells were fired near NHkawng Pa IDP camp and Hpridi village in Mai Ja Yang Area, Moe Mauk Township, Bamaw District.

In the late afternoon, mortar shells were dropped nearby Kasung village, west of Myitkyina township. Fighting also took place between the Myanmar Government Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) and Kachin Independent Army (KIA) in Man Wai village, Lainawng Hku area near Kamai sub-township in Hpakant township.

The fighting between KIA and Tatmadaw had been intensified since 2 pm of the day in Awng Lawt village in Tanai. A civilian is dead and another was seriously injured by the heavy artilleries and airstrike.

The intensified fighting continued on 12 April 2018 especially in Man Wai village, Lai Nawng Hku location of Kamai Township and Kasung village in Moegaung Township. And, the mortar shells were exploded in the civilians’ compounds in Tha Htay Kone village in Namati area of Moegaung Township. Moreover, the heavy artilleries were dropped more than 10 times in Laiza area.

On 13 April 2018, the mortar shells were dropped in Dumbum village of Tanai and a civilian (Kyaw Myit Oo, 45) was killed and his wife, Hpaujung Htu Sam was injured by the drops of mortar shells in their house around 5:30 am.

On 15th April 2018, several round of mortar shelling were launched in Mai Ja Yang from around 4:07 pm to 9:30 pm and in Laiza from around 7:10 pm to 8 pm.

On 20th April 2018 several round of mortar shelling were launched in Laiza area and Hpri Di village near Nhkawng Pa IDP camp in Mai Ja Yang. Due to the attack villagers from Mung Seng Yang had to take a refuge in the area close to China border temporarily.

Due to the intensification of armed clashes and aerial bombing in the area on 20 April people from Zup Mai Yang and Kasung villages were trapped in their villages unable to get out of the area. However, some people managed to leave in the earlier hours of the incidents to nearby villages in Namti or Numbraw Yang in Moegawng Township and Nam Jim village in Myitkyina Township. However, most people were able to leave and gathered in the church compound overnight. The next day on 21 April, a total of 880 (434 male and 446 female) from 212 households left the village on foot and local churches together with Charity groups in Namti fetched them from the way. There are now taking refuge in Roman Catholic  Church, Baptist Church and Assembly of God Church compounds in Lam Braw Yang village. Peace Coordination Group (PCG) has helped 182 persons who got out through Nam Jim village moved to church compound in Namti on 22 April 2018.

Civilian Entrapment in Conflict Areas and Displacements

Around 2,000 civilians from Awng Lawt villages were still trapped and fled into the forest due to the fighting between the government armed forces and the KIA which had been intensified since 11 April 2018. The government armed force in Tanai made anannouncement on 18 April that villagers who fled from the village due to armed clashes and heavy artilleries firing in their village, need to return to the village.

A total 215 persons from Awng Lawt villagers who participated in a religious ceremony of Catholic churches are unable to return to their village due to the fighting in the surrounding area of the village. They are now staying in the churches in Tanai and KMSS has provided them food and NFIs. They have been told to go back to their village by the government armed force, however, the villagers are unable to do so as their village is still not safe for return.

Since 11th April, 172 persons, all civilians, including children and elderly from Man Wai village (Lainawng Hku location) in Karmai sub-township have been detained by the government armed forces. They had been taken along with the government armed force for 7 days and were returned to their village on 17 April. All the households have been numbered and the 172 persons are required to be present at all time in the village and the government armed forces are stationed in the village.

3.    Humanitarian Access and Response

Access to 172 persons from Lainawng Hku location and around 2,000 who are trapped in conflicted area in Tainai area (formal Awng Lawt villagers) to provide humanitarian assistance has been denied. Several attempts made by the local churches and  local  leaders requesting for access and humanitarian assistance has been denied. Food shortage is very serious issue for the civilians those who are still trap in conflict area. Majority of them are women, children and elderly people.

Over 1,000 villagers from Kasung and Zup Mai villages, who have been displaced again following their brief displacement in August last year, arrived in Namti village, Moegaung Township. They need urgent humanitarian assistance to meet their immediate needs while they are unable to return to their communities of origin due to safety concerns as well as proper assistance in case of prolonged displacement.

The newly displaced civilians are worried about having to prematurely return to their villages that they have fled from without a guarantee of safety and security, particularly  as the current sites where IDPs are temporarily residing have not been formally recognized as IDP camps by local authorities.

The new developments with regards to the armed conflict have made existing IDPs across Kachin State extremely anxious and more vulnerable in light of declining humanitarian assistance and safety concerns which prevent them from accessing livelihood opportunism around them.

Joint Strategy Team – Bridging Rural Integrated Development and Grassroot Empowerment (BRIDGE), Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), Kachin Relief and Development Committee (KRDC), Kachin Women Association (KWA), Kachin Development Group (KDG), Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS), Metta Development Foundation (Metta), Nyein (Shalom) Foundation and Wunpawng Ningtoi (WPN)