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  • A soldier from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) puts on his shoes as he and his comrade cross a stream towards the front line in Laiza, Kachin state.

    A soldier from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) puts on his shoes as he and his comrade cross a stream towards the front line in Laiza, Kachin state. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 April 2018

The Kachin are mostly Christian and have fought for greater autonomy in the predominantly Buddhist country since 1961.

According to the United Nations nearly 4,000 people have been driven out of their homes in Myanmar in April as the country's north is now gripped with violence.

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Kachin, the northernmost state in Myanmar has seen violence escalate over ethnic minority issues, like in the southern state of Rakhine.  

The Kachin are mostly Christian and have fought for greater autonomy in the predominantly Buddhist country since 1961. 

Since then, the tensions between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and government troops have displaced an estimated 120,000 people. The military, per BBC, is said to be pounding the rebels with airstrikes and artillery. 

After a ceasefire broke down between the KIO and the military in 2011, the tensions between the military and the rebel group have sporadically flared up.  

"Our biggest concern is for the safety of civilians - including pregnant women, the elderly, small children and people with disabilities," Mark Cutts, the head of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told AFP news agency. "We must ensure that these people are protected." 

For the past six years, the Myanmar government has pursued peace agreements with many other ethnic insurgent armies, BBC reported. 

A U.N. Security Council delegation visiting the Rohingya camps alongside Bangladesh border said they encountered "overwhelming" suffering. 

The deputy U.S. ambassador to the UN, Kelley Eckels Currie, described the visit as “quite overwhelming." 

"Obviously the scale of this camp is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It is going to be a disaster when the rains come," Currie said.

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The delegation was present to hear first-hand experiences of 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have been subjected to violence, rape, and arson by Myanmar’s military since August 2017.  

Karen Pierce, the U.K. ambassador to the U.N., who was part of the 15-member delegation said the distressed refugees pleaded to the visiting U.N. delegates for help. 

"It shows the scale of the challenge as we try as a security council to find some way through that enables these poor people to go home," Pierce said. "The sad thing is there’s nothing we can do right today that will make their distress any less."  

A UNHCR fact-finding mission report published in March highlighted "concrete and overwhelming information" which points toward international crimes.

The report noted that Myanmar authorities were "dismissing reports that serious human rights violations have been committed in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states."

"The body of information and materials we are collecting is concrete and overwhelming,"  the three experts of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar noted. "It points at human rights violations of the most serious kind, in all likelihood amounting to crimes under international law."  

Lise Gregoire-van Haaren, deputy permanent representative of the Netherlands to the U.N., warned: "The number of heavily traumatized women, men and children is beyond comprehension. Myanmar must cooperate so Rohingya can return in a safe, dignified and sustainable way,"  the Guardian reported.  


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