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More villagers fleeing the fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army arrived in Hpakant in western Kachin state, while local relief groups are struggling to continue to provide assistance to displaced residents.
Pastor Naw Ja of the Catholic Church in Hpakant’s Ngapyawtaw ward said about 150 refugees from Padaitaung and Nammaw villages located about 10 miles south of the town, arrived at shelters after they were forced to flee their homes when fighting broke out between the KIA’s 6th Battalion and government troops on 22 and 23 September.
Displaced groups began relocating to the area during the last month after fighting spread into the region. Currently, there are about 1,000 people being sheltered in the church.
“There are many difficulties – there are outbreaks of diseases such as flu, diarrhea, malaria and it’s getting increasingly difficult to continue providing them with food and shelter. It not easy to feed this large population,” said Naw Ja.
There are around 30 refugee camps providing aid to more than 9,000 refugees in Hpakant. Relief groups said a group of residents from Mawonekale and Mawmongbom villages have returned to their homes recently as fighting had died down in the area.
Hpakant residents along with members of civil society organisations and religious groups sent a petition to President Thein Sein earlier in the year calling for an end to fighting in the region.
After a 17-year ceasefire crumbled in June 2011, fighting has intensified in Burma’s northern most state, which has displaced an estimated 90,000 people in the area.
On 21 September, activists rallied in Rangoon and called for an end to the country’s civil conflicts, including the ongoing war in Kachin state. Authorities are planning to charge at least 13 activists who helped organised the rally for demonstrating without the appropriate permit.