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Beyond Rakhine, civilians at risk in Northern Shan and Kachin as violence continues in Myanmar

April 30th, 2018  •  Author:   International Rescue Committee  •  3 minute read
  • Aid agencies unable to reach those most in need
  • As conflict reignites in Northern Shan and Kachin, 5,000 people this month displaced by the world’s longest running civil war
  • More than 120,000 displaced in Myanmar’s hidden crisis

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is deeply concerned at the mounting violence and increasing displacement in Myanmar’s Kachin state, where over 5,000 people have fled their homes in recent weeks due to renewed clashes between government forces and ethnic minorities.

While the world’s spotlight has been on Rakhine state since violence forced almost 700,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh last August, ethnic strife across Myanmar’s states continues – and has erupted anew in Northern Shan and Kachin states bordered by China.

The recent displacement does not include the nearly 100,000 people living in camps in both Northern Shan and Kachin – of the over 120,000 displaced – since a government ceasefire broke down in 2011. Access of humanitarian agencies to the thousands in need is limited, only exacerbating humanitarian need.

Sanna Johnson, regional director of the International Rescue Committee, said: “The latest wave of violence in the world’s longest running civil war shows no signs of abating. We are increasingly concerned for civilians trapped by the fighting in Kachin state, who have already had to endure so much. Our teams are hearing reports that some have been sheltering in forests since being forced to flee either this month, unable to escape ongoing fighting.

“It is vital that aid organisations are able to reach those forced to flee their homes. Full and unfettered access to those in need must be granted, and International Humanitarian Law respected, by all parties to the conflict. We have seen the human cost of gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Rakhine state – a scenario that must be avoided at all costs.”

According to UNICEF, logistical and security concerns mean only a third of the target population in Kachin have access to basic health care. The International Rescue Committee is closely monitoring the situation and is placed to respond if access is granted. IRC has been working across Myanmar since 2008 and is currently is providing vital services in Northern Shan and Kachin states including providing emergency health and specialised programs for women to internally displaced people and conflict-affected communities.