Villagers Displaced By Putao Conflict Cannot Return Home

Kachin civilians displaced by the conflict in Putao Township who are sick and without food, have appealed to church groups for help to return safely to their villages.

A man from N’se Yang, who requested anonymity, said Burma Army (BA) soldiers staying in his village and in Sumpyi Yang for the past two weeks have threatened to shoot people for trying to reach their homes. He said they told them they were not allowed to return to their village without religious leaders. And they were only allowed to return in threes to get food, and only if they raised a white flag.

Locals estimate that there are at least 300 regime soldiers in the villages.

Last week, the villagers asked for help from Kachin Peace-talks Creation Group, the Myitkyina Christian Council (MCC) and the Kachin National Consultative Council. An MCC pastor informed Hkyet Thing Nan, who was appointed chair for Kachin State by the military junta, and the Northern Military Command about the villagers’ plight, but still waiting for a response.

More than 5,000 villagers from Lon Shar Yang, Hpert Mer, Sumpyi Yang and N’se Yang fled after the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) destroyed a BA camp in Sumpyi Yang in early February. Although some of them sought refuge with relatives in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, most fled into the jungle where they ran out of supplies.

“Some people in the jungle camps are sick. We have no food and cannot leave the area. There are volunteer groups who want to help us, but they cannot come to our camp,” said another man who asked that his name not be published.

Three weeks ago, the regime flew reinforcement troops into Putao and fighter jets bombed the area around Sumpyi Yang and along the road from Myitkyina to Putao ten times. The junta has threatened to burn down the village if the KIA and the PDF do not stop ambushing them.

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