Rights Group Urges China to Protect Burmese Refugees

Posted June 26th, 2012 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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Human Rights Watch says China has been forcibly returning some of the ethnic-Kachin refugees who fled fighting in Burma.

The group says Chinese authorities have repatriated about 300 refugees to Kachin state, where heavy fighting broke out last year between the Burmese army and Kachin rebels.

The report says as many as 10,000 Kachin people have fled the conflict for China's southern Yunnan province, where they are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

Human Rights Watch says China has “generally tolerated” refugees from Kachin, but says they lack adequate water, food and other basic supplies. It also said Kachin people are routinely harassed by local authorities and exploited by Chinese employers.

The group is urging China to provide temporary protection and allow humanitarian agencies “unhindered access” to the refugees. It also wants Beijing to adhere to international treaties that prohibit forced returns of refugees.

At least 60,000 Kachin people have been displaced since June 2011, when fighting broke out between the military and the Kachin Independence Army, ending a 17-year ceasefire.