Denial of Aid and Severe Human Rights Abuses Endangering Civilians in Myanmar’s Kachin and Northern Shan States

Washington, D.C. (December 8, 2017) – A new Refugees International (RI) investigation released today details how Myanmar’s military - the same military responsible for ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar - is also responsible for severe human rights abuses and blocking of life-saving aid to a mostly Christian minority in the north of the country. A team from Refugees International was able to access a restricted area outside of government control in Myanmar’s Kachin State to document the conditions of tens of thousands of displaced persons. The team’s findings are highlighted in a just-released report: Suffering in Shadows: Aid Restrictions, Reductions Endanger Displaced Persons in Northern Myanmar.

“A dangerous combination of decreased international aid, decreased accessibility due to government policies, and waning global attention are creating a desperate and unsustainable situation for the displaced people in northern Myanmar,” said Daniel Sullivan, Refugees International Senior Advocate for Human Rights “While international pressure and attention on the plight of the Rohingya in the west of Myanmar must be sustained, the situation of forcibly displaced Kachin and other ethnic groups must not be forgotten.”

Some 100,000 displaced persons living in camps in Kachin and northern Shan States face Myanmar government policies that have dramatically increased restrictions on humanitarian assistance. Nearly half of the displaced population lives in areas controlled by ethnic armed groups, where the government has denied virtually all access for the United Nations and international humanitarian groups.

The RI report finds that the increased restrictions in areas beyond government control have not only made delivery of food and medicine more difficult but have also heightened the risks of abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking, creating a serious protection crisis. The effects of decreased aid and access to services have already manifested in the form of deteriorating health conditions, increased dropout rates among displaced students, and greater expressions of hopelessness among the displaced population. Even in government-controlled areas, aid delivery to displaced people has become increasingly difficult as the Myanmar government imposes increasingly onerous bureaucratic requirements.

RI urges the Government of Myanmar to take immediate steps to alleviate the suffering of displaced persons including restoration of crossline aid, timely granting of travel authorizations for humanitarian staff, and granting of access to the UN fact-finding mission.

Based on its findings, RI recommends that the U.S. government, United Nations, and international donors should:

  • Take measures to curb abuses and ensure accountability for those responsible for serious human rights violations through targeted sanctions against senior military officials, a multi-lateral arms embargo, and support for a UN fact-finding mission.

  • Sustain and augment humanitarian support to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kachin and northern Shan States through local civil society organizations, including support for full food rations to IDPs in areas outside of government control.

  • Take measures to curb abuses and ensure accountability for those responsible for serious human rights violations through targeted sanctions against senior military officials, a multi-lateral arms embargo, and support for a UN fact-finding mission.

For durable solutions in the intermediate to longer term, progress will be needed through the establishment of peace talks and in beginning pilot programs for safe and voluntary returns of displaced persons to their villages of origin when conditions permit.

Read the full version of the report here.

For interviews with Refugees International Senior Advocate Daniel Sullivan, please contact Gail Chalef, Senior Communications Officer, at (202) 540-7026 or at gail@refugeesinternational.org.

Print Friendly and PDF