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Lack of resources hinders refugee efforts

Church moves to alleviate suffering of sick and hungry people fleeing armed clashes

Refugees due to fighting between Myanmar government troops and the Kachin Independence Army(KIA) Refugees due to fighting between Myanmar government troops and the Kachin Independence Army(KIA)
  • ucanews.com reporter, Mandalay
  • Myanmar
  • July 6, 2011
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Churches in Banmaw Diocese in Kachin State have been providing rice and medicine to sick and hungry refugees displaced by ongoing armed clashes between Burmese soldiers and troops from the opposition Kachin Independence Army but say their ability to help is limited.

More than 6,500 people have sought refuge in five parishes near the Chinese border, according to data collected by a disaster relief and response team from Karuna Banmaw.

Many of them have gathered in makeshift camps, while others have fled into the jungle to escape the fighting.

“We are supporting the refugees as much as we can with the Lenten contribution and other donations from the faithful in the diocese,” said Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam, who added that heavy rains in the area have added to the difficulties facing refugees.

The needs of the refugees, he said, were far greater than the parishes’ limited resources.

Bishop Raymond added that villagers close to the border often cross the border at night and return in the morning to work their farms and paddy fields.

Church sources who declined to be named said that while the situation has calmed in some parts of Kachin State, remote areas near the Chinese border remain dangerous.

Fighting in the area broke out in early June between government troops and forces from the KIA, which had signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.

Tensions have flared since the KIA rejected an order last year to join the government’s Border Guard Force.

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