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October 23, 2018

No limitations on access to conflict areas to evacuate civilians, but safety must be the priority

  • While the Union Government was working towards achieving lasting peace, armed conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) erupted in April, forcing residents in the area to flee their homes.
    The Kachin State Government, the Red Cross and social and religious organizations have helped the residents as much as possible.
    To evacuate and assist the residents in the conflict areas, the Kachin State Government formed four working committees and sent them to four different areas to observe the situation. Depending on the security situation, it also permitted rescue groups to help evacuate the people trapped amid the armed conflicts.
    But the situation remains dangerous, in large part because there are landmines in the conflict areas. The Kachin State Government considers safety the priority for the volunteers who will evacuate the people, and takes the responsibility for their well-being seriously. It is not true that we denied NGOs access to the conflict areas.
    We cannot say that there are no people who are trapped amid the armed conflicts. Some areas are within the reach of the Kachin State government’s administration, but some are not.
    Some of the people trapped in the conflict areas were evacuated and sent to the homes of their relatives of their own volition. Others are being sheltered temporarily at monasteries and churches due to security concerns.
    The aid provided to the victims can help them for a short period. Armed conflicts cause loss of lives on both sides, and civilians are innocent victims.
    The first priority is for peace to prevail and the second is the rule of law in Kachin State.
    The rule of law includes elimination of illegal drugs. Without peace, no one can fully carry out development works. This is one of the reasons why elimination of the illegal drug trade is necessary.
    To evacuate the civilians, the voices of the people are very important. The evacuation committees of the Kachin State Government are ready to evacuate the people once they have received information from the people.
    As the Union Government is committed to cessation of armed conflicts which have lasted for more than 70 years and to laying down a foundation for building a democratic federal republic for and by the people, all people and organizations are urged to cooperate for the flowering of new thoughts and new opinions and join hands to build a democratic federal republic in unity.

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