South East Asia

Displaced Kachin Christians trapped in jungle denied aid

A harrowing picture of a sick baby amongst the 2,000 trapped Kachin Christians. At the time of reporting it was not known if the baby was still alive or not. Efforts are ongoing to get medical care to the baby and other sick and vulnerable Kachin people confined in the jungle region.

Thousands of Kachin Christians trapped in the jungle by the 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.

Just two Kachins have managed to flee to safety at the time of reporting. One was a woman who gave birth on 24 April 2018 who 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.

Elderly lady, four times displaced by war in the Kachin region , carried to safety by her grandson as they fled an attack on their village.

A 100-year-old 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 can not 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 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. Negotiators for their release, between NGOs and the Burmese government have been 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 met in secret with Kachin Christian activist “K” last week. She and 20 local NGOs have sent a letter to the Human Rights Organisation in Myanmar (Burma) concerning the recent attacks on the 2,000 displaced Kachin Christian villagers and to request release of 159 Kachins taken hostage by the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army).

K was named with two of her co-workers in the letter, which is now in government hands. Her co-workers have fled Myanmar, fearing for their safety. However, K is determined to stay on, despite the dangers. As our contact prayed with K, she said, “I am very tired, if God takes me home, means I need to rest.”

From Barnabas Fund contacts