Update #3 ·

Update on March 16, 2013

Dear Supporters of Burma Community Builders,

Not long ago,
Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State, spoke to a Congressional
Human Rights commission about the situation in Kachin State. Please read
below, and encourage your friends to join our call to end the human
rights abuses in Kachin State.



Executive Director, Burma Community Builders

"The government has signed ten ceasefire agreements with armed
ethnic groups in the past year, including with the Karen National Union
with which it had previously been at war for over 60 years. Still, the
government's previously longest running and most stable ceasefire with
the Kachin broke down 18 months ago and fighting has intensified in
recent months. In December, the military used helicopters and jets to
attack Kachin Independence Army positions, marking the first use of air
power against an armed ethnic group in decades. The Army continued using
heavy artillery to shell KIA positions. Estimates are that tens of
thousands of Kachin IDPs remain cut off from international humanitarian
aid since July 2012. In our talks with the government, I stressed the
urgent need to grant immediate access for humanitarian organizations to
all those in need. Since the December escalation both sides have
tentatively returned to the negotiating table, though a ceasefire will
not be reached easily. In the immediate term we have pressed for, and
the government has committed to, restoring international humanitarian
access to IDPs both in government and in KIA-held territory.

"There have been recent signs of improvement: major international
humanitarian groups such as ICRC and UNOCHA have recently regained
limited access to deliver aid to Laiza and Hpakant in Kachin State; we
are hopeful that these initial visits will produce the long-term
sustained access these organizations need. Smaller community based
Kachin organizations we spoke with have emphasized the need for these
larger organizations to continue to fund smaller service delivery groups
who do not need government permission to deliver assistance to IDPs in
difficult to reach places. We have continued to press the government to
allow ongoing humanitarian access for all groups which is crucial not
only for delivering assistance but also laying the groundwork for the
kind of trust that a ceasefire requires."

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