Please tell USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah to urgently provide life-saving humanitarian aid to more than 55,000 Kachin Refugees in Kachin State, Northern Burma.
While the world excitedly awaits Burma’s by-election, scheduled for Sunday, April 1st, already anticipating a win for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Army continues its brutal campaign against the Kachin ethnic minority in Northern Burma far away from the world’s attention.
Since the Burmese Army broke a 17 year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organization in June 2011, Kachin villagers have been subjected to widespread human rights abuses including forced portering, use as human shields and landmine sweepers, rape, torture, extrajudicial killings, disappearance, forced relocation and destruction and confiscation of food and property.
Tragically, the situation for Kachin civilians continues to deteriorate. Since June 2011, more than 75,000 people have been forced to flee attacks by the Burmese Army, seeking shelter in hiding sites and makeshift internally displaced persons camps set up by local Kachin community based organizations. Dangerously low amounts of humanitarian aid have been given to the Kachin refugees, resulting in the deaths of some children, elderly and women from preventable diseases. Access to clean water and medicine could have easily kept 1 year old baby Maran Gam Awn alive, but instead he died from diahrrea.
Kachin community groups are doing all they can to assist their people, but they desperately need more supplies and assistance. Please tell USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah to urgently provide humanitarian assistance to the Kachin community-based relief committees so that they can carry on their work and save the lives of Kachins who have already had to endure so much. A 38-year-old woman from Loi Kang village, now living in a remote camp along the Burma-China border, told Human Rights Watch she was concerned about the immediate provision of food aid in the IDP camps, as her family has no other source of sustenance. “We got rice and oil from Wunpawng Ninghtoi [Kachin Community Groups] and also some warm clothes, but I worry that if the supplies for us stop coming and if there is not enough food…. I am very worried about that.”
The situation is getting worse. Preventable illnesses caused by lack of food, medicine, unsanitary conditions and exposure to the elements are taking their toll on these IDPs and refugees. Children, the elderly and women are acutely vulnerable in this situation. Children suffer from malnutrition, diarrhea and stomach parasites. Without immediate humanitarian assistance from the international community, people will continue to suffer. Please tell USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah to provide lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Kachin IDPs before the situation gets worse. Aid to the Kachin community groups will ensure immediate and effective delivery to the communities who desperately need it, and have no other way of getting assistance.
The international community desperately wants to believe Burma’s regime is sincere about change and reward them for it. We have a responsibility to ensure it is not at the expense of the lives of Burma’s ethnic minorities. We must demand the U.S. government to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the Kachin.