Thousands of Kachin Christians trapped in the jungle by the Myanmar (Burmese) Army are being denied aid.
Barnabas Fund contacts report that around 2,000 Kachin Christian civilians have been trapped after fleeing a wave of military attacks in April. Fears are growing for the health of the Kachins who have been stranded for over two weeks in perilous and rapidly deteriorating conditions, as their water, food and medical supplies run out.
Two Kachins attempting to escape have been shot and killed, with two others injured.
About 200 of the trapped Christians have managed to flee to safety at the time of reporting. One was a woman who gave birth on 24 April 2018 and, escaped on foot, with her new-born baby, arriving at a safe location two days later exhausted, distraught and unable to speak. Local contacts confirmed that the baby is in good health and the mother is improving, but is still in shock.
An elderly woman was amongst those fleeing a village in the Kachin region. Her grandson bravely carried her to safety on his back. “I told my family to leave me alone in my home because I cannot walk”, she said. “But my grandson insisted carrying me. I have been a refugee three or four times in my life, but this is the worst it has ever been.” Her 22-year-old grandson could not bring clothes or supplies because he was carrying her. He added, “I am glad I was able to help my grandmother escape from our village. However, I am worried about her health. We just want to go home.”
Amongst the 2,000 displaced in the jungle are children, elderly, sick and several pregnant women. Many were injured as they fled in the panic and chaos that ensued after the sudden and heavy airstrikes on villages and IDP camps in the region that began in early April.
In a separate incident, 159 Kachin villagers were taking hostage by the Burmese Army, also called the Tatmadaw. Negotiations between NGOs and the Myanmar government for the villagers’ release are ongoing. On April 27, the government said that local Kachin officials and Red Cross would be permitted to visit the 159 villagers. But, in an early morning attempt to visit the hostages, access was once again denied.
On 27 April the Kachin State Chief Minister announced that the 159 Kachin villagers would be freed that day. However, at the time of writing, their release is still awaited.
A Barnabas Fund contact reported that Kachin Christian activists and 20 local NGOs recently sent a letter to a human rights organisation in Myanmar concerning the recent attacks on the 2,000 displaced Kachin Christian villagers and to request release of the 159 Kachins taken hostage by the Tatmadaw.
From Barnabas Fund contacts