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Burma Allows Second UN Aid Shipment to Kachin Rebel Areas

Ethnic Kachin people sit in the doorways of shelters at a temporary camp for people displaced by fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army, or KIA, outside the city of Myitkyina in the north of the country, February 22, 2012.
Ethnic Kachin people sit in the doorways of shelters at a temporary camp for people displaced by fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army, or KIA, outside the city of Myitkyina in the north of the country, February 22, 2012.
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Daniel Schearf

Burma’s government has allowed the United Nations to ship a second round of humanitarian aid to rebel-controlled areas in northern Kachin state. But, the U.N. says the aid is far from adequate for the tens of thousands displaced by fighting between Burma’s army and ethnic Kachin rebels. 

The United Nations was allowed to send a second convoy of humanitarian aid Monday morning for rebel-held areas of Burma’s Kachin state.

The trucks carried temporary shelters and enough food and medicine to last 2,200 people about a month.

An earlier U.N. aid convoy left Saturday with enough supplies for 1,100 people.  

It is only the second time Burma’s government has allowed international aid to enter areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization and follows growing international pressure.  

Aye Win, a U.N. spokesman in Rangoon, says the aid is not enough. He says there are at least 50,000 people displaced and in need of sustained help. 

“We’d certainly like the circumstances to be more permissible for further aid delivery," said Aye Win. "And, again, you see, the situation up there, you know, has to be taken into account.  And, once we’re able to send another convoy we’ll certainly do so.”

As many as 75,000 villagers fled ongoing fighting between Burma’s army and Kachin rebels that broke out in June, ending a 17-year cease-fire.

Displaced villagers crowd into churches and makeshift refugee camps along the border with China.

Authorities have allowed international aid to flow to government-controlled areas but previously only allowed one shipment in December to rebel territory.

Rights groups condemn the blocking of aid as a violation of international humanitarian law.

The KIO also refused some aid that was offered by the government, apparently concerned that accepting it could be used for propaganda purposes.

This month, Human Rights Watch released a report saying despite Burma’s recent political reforms, which have won widespread international praise, there has been no significant reduction in abuses committed by the country’s military.

The report on the conflict in Kachin included numerous accounts of torture, rape and deliberate attacks on civilians.

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