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Karenni NGO calls for withdrawal of govt forces, highlights refugee concerns

FILE PHOTO: A Karenni refugee family rests with their belongings at the jungle near the Thai-Burmese border in March 2017. (PHOTO: Reuters)

The Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN) has called for a withdrawal of Burmese government forces from their bases in Karenni [Kayah] State; the cessation of several mega-development projects; and adequate humanitarian assistance for Karenni refugees.

“Although the NLD-led government and ethnic armed organisations have held several rounds of talks about the ceasefire and the peace process, and have reached agreements to a certain extent, there is still no concrete political reform that guarantees a true ceasefire and peace in Karenni region,” KCSN said in a statement released yesterday.

“Under the new NLD-led administration, the Shwe Taung Company is undertaking land surveys ahead of building the Upper Haw Kham Dam … without consulting the general public. And this is just one of five dams proposed to be built on the Pun Creek, which is a tributary of the Salween River.”

It added: “Despite the absence of a nationwide peace accord, there have been cuts in rations to the refugees at two Karenni refugee camps hosting 12,000 refugees.

“No agreements guaranteeing security, living standards, land, livelihoods or humanitarian have been made for these refugees. There are so many obstacles facing those returning to their homes.”

It concluded: “The Karenni Civil Society Network [KCSN] reiterates our calls to the Burmese government to start withdrawing Burma Army troops from Karenni State and close down the No.14 military training centre in order to build trust in the peace process. We also urge the Burmese government to stop the implementation of mega projects until there is federal reform ensuring that decision-making about such projects is devolved to a local level. Finally, we urge international donors to provide adequate humanitarian aid to refugees in Thailand until they can return home voluntarily, in safety and dignity.”