Children are facing severe health problems due to the extreme cold at Hpre refugee camp in the area controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) according to Salang Kaba Doi Pyi Sa, head of KIO’s IDP and Refugee Relief Committee (IRRC).
The camp is located near Pangwa in Kachin State on the border with China at Border Point 6 near to Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Battalions 32 and 33.
On 10 January Doi Pyi Sa said: “According to yesterday’s news one child died the day before yesterday and about three or four children were sent to Tengchong Hospital, China yesterday too.”
He said he has been unable to get any follow-up news because he is unable to get into contact with the refugee camp.
About 900 refugees live in the camp and currently there is no food shortage because the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has been supplying the camp with food.
The KIO built a primary school and a clinic in Hpre Camp. Currently drinking water is in shortage at the camp because snow is falling. In previous years it has been cold, but this year the weather is worse than normal.
A colonel from a KIA battalion based near the camp also confirmed that two children were sent to hospital in China and that the bad weather has made other children in the refugee camp sick.
He told Kachinnews: “Now it is extremely cold and snow has been falling for two or three days. There were two children sent to hospital yesterday because they had diarrhea with blood. Another one has been sent to hospital but I don’t know why?”
Kaw Nan, who is in-charge of the KBC aid office in Yinjiang, Yunnan province, China said that though the people in charge of Hpre camp had informed her office about the sick children on 10th January she was unable to get any further details due to communication problems.
She said: “A lot of snow fell yesterday and the children became sick so they were sent to the Chinese hospital. It is hard to find out any more details because communicating with them is hard. She added that the camp also urgently needs medicines.
Deacon Bawk La who is helping refugees at Border Point 8 said that snow was falling Border Point 8 and there was two feet of snow on the ground.
He said: “We do not have sick patients here, but the water is freezing because so much snow has fallen. We cannot travel outside and we are unable to drive cars or motorcycles. We also have to melt down ice for water.”
The refugees at Hpre camp fled their homes in villages in the northern part of Pangwa area when the KIA and government started fighting again in 2012.
In July 2012 Zahkung Ting Ying, former chairman of New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) and is now a member of parliament, told the refugees that they could move to the NDA-K controlled area of Pang Wah, but the refugees decided not to and have been living in the Hpre refugee camp instead.
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