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Refugees flee from Myanmar to China

6 years ago99 views

reuters

Reuters

Sunrise over a refugee camp in an obscure part of southwest China, housing thousands of refugees from Myanmar.

Up to 10,000 refugees have fled to China's Yunnan province from Myanmar's Kachin state, driven by fighting between Myanmar's military and powerful rebel group the Kachin Independence Army.

They bring tales of rape and violence from one of the world's longest running but least known conflicts - dating from Myanmar's independence from Britain in 1948.

This woman and her four children walked for four days to get to the border.

She says the military were killing, shooting and raping people in her village.

In this makeshift school, mothers act as teachers to almost 200 children.

"We couldn't bring anything with us," this distraught woman says. "It was so difficult to get into China and now there are so many living here in such terrible conditions."

With around two million ethnic Kachins living by the border, there are fears the exodus could continue, sparking a humanitarian crisis.

But China is denying the existence of the refugees - an embarrassment to a country that shares close ties with Myanmar.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman says the refugees had temporarily entered the country for safety reasons and have since returned to Myanmar.

The conflict is also an embarrassment to Myanmar's government which has recently introduced high profile reforms - including the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in 2010.

Suu Kyi is taking part in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for April.

At her house in Yangon, she received a recognition from UNESCO for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence - the second time she has received the award.

Sunita Rappai Reuters