UN says aid to parts of Myanmar's north 'stalled'
YANGON, Myanmar – The United Nations on Tuesday, December 16, said it had been unable to reach thousands of displaced people in rebel-held areas of Myanmar's war-torn northern Kachin state for two months as soaring tensions after recent clashes raise international alarm.
Convoys which have provided aid for up to 30,000 people in near-monthly runs for over a year have been unable to cross into areas outside of government control since September, according to the UN's November humanitarian bulletin.
"This is mainly due to the volatile security situation and bureaucratic delays in getting government authorizations," said the report by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), released Tuesday.
It comes after an upsurge of fighting between government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels in the region.
Food deliveries by the World Food Programme have been halted, the UN said, adding that local aid groups were trying to plug the most urgent gaps in assistance.
It also warned that some 27,500 displaced people, including 12,000 vulnerable children, had not been provided with blankets and warm clothes as the cold winter season sets in.
Heavy fighting in Kachin, near the border with China, broke out in November following a deadly surprise artillery attack by the army on a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) training camp.
The UN and United States were among those to call for civilians to be protected in response to the clashes, which have cast further doubt over faltering nationwide peace talks.
Some 98,000 people have been displaced in Kachin and northern areas of neighbouring Shan state since a 17-year ceasefire splintered in 2011.
Around half of those left homeless are in areas outside of government control, the UN said.
"The United Nations and its partners continue to call for regular and sustained humanitarian access to all displaced people and other communities affected by the conflict," the report added.
Some 14 of the 16 major rebel groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the quasi-civilian government as part of reforms in recent years. But deals with the KIA and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army in the eastern state of Shan have proved elusive. – Rappler.com