Conflict Update from Back Pack Health Worker Team

Yesterday Back Pack Health Worker Team released a situation update report on the conflicts happening in Burma.  The Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT) is an independent, nonprofit, multi-ethnic organization dedicated to providing primary health care to ethnic groups and vulnerable populations in armed conflict and rural areas of Burma, where access to healthcare is otherwise unavailable. They serve almost 200,000 people in eastern and western Burma.

Their new report stands in stark contrast to the accounts and articles that are being delivered about the positive change happening in Burma. Keep in mind that their updates on displacement are just additions to the already existing half a million people chronically displaced in eastern Burma, as well as hundreds of thousands of refugees in other countries.

Read the report yourself, but here are also some key facts:

Karen State

Between 5,000 and7,000 civilians remain in temporary, unofficial sites along the Thai‐Burma border in Thailand’s Tak Province. [This is from the conflict that began in November. I was there in Mae Sot when it happened, and it’s disquieting to think that people are still hiding in temporary shelters ever since then]

According to the Karen Teachers Working Group, Burma Army soldiers are engaged in episodes of fighting everyday, either with the DKBA, KNLA or the BGF splinter group.

In the first week of August further fighting between BGF Battalion 1012 and Burma Army troops caused mortar shells to fall on villages in the Hlaingbwe area, Pa’an District. As a result, 14 local schools have been forced to close.

In early July, more than 30 farmers in Papun District were ordered to abandon their land and report to the Burma Army for portering duty. Any who refused had their plantations burnt.

Kachin State

Approximately 20,000 remain internally‐displaced in Kachin State along the border with China.

Since 9th June, Burma Army soldiers have raped a total of 32 women.

Shan State

Almost 50 separate incidences of fighting have taken place between the Burma Army and the Shan State Army North (SSA‐N) forces between 2nd July and 5th August.

On 13th July, two Burma Army aircraft bombed joint SSA‐N and Shan State Army‐South forces stationed near Wankaipha village in Mong Yai Township. This attack was followed by the firing of mortar shells, leading to the desertion of approximately 20 villages in the locality.

Over 30,000 people have been displaced in Shan State since the Burma Army began renewed offensives in March this year. A large number of human rights abuses are occurring daily, such as forced portering, torture and the forced relocation or destruction of households suspected of supporting SSA‐N troops. In addition, between 5th July and 2nd August, Burma Army soldiers raped seven female civilians, including one pregnant woman, two detainees and one 12‐year old girl.

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