Thursday, December 15, 2011

Myanmar: Kachin: cease fire ordered, but tension remains high

“President Thein Sein apparently ordered troops to cease fire against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). So far, however nothing has changed significantly and tension remains high in the region with sporadic fighting. Nothing is sure any longer in Myanmar”, said to MISNA Monsignor Sumlut Gam, Bishop of Banmaw, commenting the announcement of a possible truce in fighting underway for some six months in the northern State of Kachin.

“The number of displaced increased over the past weeks to over 30,000 due to the large-scale military offensive conducted against the ethnic Kachin movement. The situation of the displaced is very difficult”, continued the Burman prelate.

A small group of United Nations aid workers was authorised access to the region. According to the Irrawady news site, some members of the UNICEF (UN Childs Front) and UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees) arrived yesterday with aid in Laiza, along the border with China, where the KIA is based.

A ceasefire accord in force for 17 years between the KIA, armed wing of the ethnic Kachin movement, was violated on June 9. After initial moments of tension and relative calm, fighting resumed at the start of November. According to some media, under growing international pressure, particularly from the US, President Thein Sein ordered troops to halt the offensive. US State Secretary Hillary Clinton was in fact in Myanmar just two weeks ago.