South East Asia

Kachin seek sanctuary in churches but 1,500 still trapped

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.

More than 1,500 Kachin remain trapped in the jungle, three weeks after being displaced because of attacks by the Myanmar (Burmese) Army. Around 560 are understood to have reached safety at the time of writing, the majority of whom have sought sanctuary in churches.

Attacks by the Army which began in April trapped around 2,000 Kachin Christian civilians in the jungle in northern Myanmar (Burma). The International Red Cross has assessed that nearly 6,800 people have been displaced since early April, although other estimates have put the number of those displaced at more than 10,000.

Those who fled have mostly travelled on foot, through thick jungle. Several are reported to have been injured by landmines. Among them are new mothers and babies, as well as the elderly.

The latest phase of the Myanmar military’s vicious campaign in Kachin regions in northern Myanmar began with heavy airstrikes on 11 April 2018. The mainly-Christian ethnic minority have been targeted for decades in what the government claims is a campaign against Kachin separatist groups.

The attention of Western media, and the United Nations, remains focused on the plight of Rohingya Muslim refugees outside of Myanmar’s borders. The UNHCR’s latest UK appeal calls for aid for Rohingya refugees in camps ahead of the monsoon, but is silent on the on-going, documented suffering of Kachin Christian civilians in northern Myanmar.

Christian aid agency Barnabas Fund is working to meet the urgent needs of displaced Kachin Christians by providing food and medical care.