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U.N. chief calls for end to fighting in Kachin State


(Mizzima) – After receiving a letter from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the fighting in Kachin State in Burma on Thursday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the American Society for International Law in Washington, D.C., on May 7, 2012. Photo: U.N.The political wing of the armed ethnic group wrote to the world leader urging his help in ending the decades-old civil war, which has created a growing humanitarian problem in the region as refugees flee the fighting.

The Kachin conflict resurfaced in June 2011, ending a 16-year truce and displacing an estimated 50,000 people.

Burma reorganized its peacemaking team last month led by a vice president under the direct supervision of the president of the country, in an effort to restart stalled peace negotiations.

Burma’s reformist President Thein Sein appealed to dozens of ethnic minority dissident or insurgent groups in August to start peace talks, which was one of the key conditions set by the West in order for sanctions on the country to be lifted.

The U.S. lifted all sanctions on Friday with the exception of a ban against selling arms and some targeted restrictions and regulations.

“The U.N. is following closely the situation on the ground,” a spokesperson told reporters, adding that on a recent visit to Burma by Ban, the government had told him that it had “ceased offensive operations in Kachin.” However, observers say armed clashes are continuing.

“While we have no confirmed information of the situation in the conflict areas the secretary-general calls on all parties to cease offensives and to find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict there,” he said.

About one-third of Burma’s 60 million people belong to ethnic minorities and many of them resent what they see as domination by the majority Burman community, which includes continued human rights abuses.

“Any escalation of the violence at this stage could result in an aggravation of the situation of internal displacement and in a rise of human rights violations all of which must be avoided,” the spokesman said.

So far, there are no signs that the two sides are coming together for more direct talks.
Last Updated ( Friday, 18 May 2012 14:13 )  
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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