Rain dampens relief efforts as fighting continues in northern Burma

In this file photo, a Kachin woman applies traditional treatment to reduce her son's temperature at a refugee camp in Mansi Township, Kachin State, January 2013. (PHOTO: Reuters)
Relief efforts in Kachin and northern Shan states are falling short, according to a prominent NGO working in the war zone.

Refugees are in dire need of adequate shelter in particular, said the Action Times Foundation, as continuing battles are waged between the government and rebel groups.

Over 100,000 civilians have been displaced by two years of conflict, and many are now sheltering in makeshift camps across government or rebel-controlled territory, as well as in Yunnan State, China.

The Action Times Foundation, a humanitarian organisation based in Rangoon, said that the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is deteriorating rapidly as fighting has intensified as of April this year.

Eindra Nay Nwe, the foundation’s secretary, said that those living in fresh camps, which have sprung up since April, have been unable to stay dry as the rainy season has arrived, while their children are in need of textbooks and other school supplies.

“As the monsoon has arrived, the IDPs are in need of roofing materials, umbrellas and raincoats for the children as well as learning materials for study,” she said.

Last month, Action Times Foundation linked up with much-loved band Shwe Thanzin and Pan Ye Lan, a charity made up of musicians, to stage fundraising performances on sidewalks and in teashops in urban areas of Burma. That effort raised 33 million kyat (US$33,000). Last week, the charity collaboration distributed that assistance to seven camps across Muse in Kachin State, and Namhkam in northern Shan State.

Shwe Thazin member Win Maw took part in the relief mission to the camps. He said the organisation is acting quickly to try to close the gap in delivering humanitarian assistance to the displaced people.

“We went to IDP camps in Muse and asked their coordinators what they required now that it is monsoon season,” he told DVB. “Their children have to go to school and need umbrellas and raincoats. So we immediately ordered 1,000 items of wet weather gear from Ruili, using the funds we collected.”

“We are planning to build bamboo flooring. It’s unliveable with the ground constantly wet,” she said.

As the refugees wait out the wet season, further fighting has been reported by ethic media organisations in Kachin and northern Shan States.

This week, Kachinland News reported that the Kachin Independence Army have been engaged in heavy fighting in the Mansi area.

According to the Shan Herald, the Burmese army shelled the Shan State Army North in their positions at Mongsu for two days last week, forcing the rebel army to cede the camp.

By MYO ZAW LINN (DVB)

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