UN convoy finally reaches northernmost Myanmar
- Article by: JOHN HEILPRIN
- Associated Press
- June 14, 2013 - 10:10 AM
GENEVA — A U.N.-led convoy of trucks in Myanmar has for the first time in nearly a year been allowed to deliver food and household supplies to areas beyond government control in the country's northernmost region.
The U.N. humanitarian office said Friday that a 10-truck convoy was delivering food, special nutrients for children, household and hygiene kits and water purification tablets to 5,100 of the estimated 100,000 people driven from their homes due to fighting between the government and rebels in Kachin state. The region in Myanmar borders China.
Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, said it was the first time Myanmar's government has allowed a U.N.-led convoy to enter Kachin state since July 2012.
The convoy set out on a route between the towns of Bhamo and Maija Yang, delivering supplies on behalf of UNICEF and other U.N. agencies to people living in camps along the way, Laerke said.
The U.N.'s top humanitarian official in Myanmar, Ashok Nigam, called on Myanmar's government and the Kachin Independence Organization to allow the convoy "to be the first of many, and that regular and unimpeded access to all people displaced in Kachin state is sustained."
His office estimates that since June 2011, the fighting between Myanmar's government and the Kachin Independence Organization has forced an estimated 100,000 people from their homes, with 60,000 of them living in areas beyond the government's control.
Myanmar has faced rebellions since achieving independence in 1948. The Kachin in the north are among several minority groups seeking autonomy who have been engaged in sporadic fighting with the government.
Separately, the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva approved a statement Friday calling on Myanmar's government to immediately end all violence and human rights abuses against Muslims, who compromise about 4 percent of the country's 60 million people.
Rage against Muslims has plagued the Asian nation as it emerges from half a century of military rule.
© 2013 Star Tribune