In an open letter sent to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon earlier this week the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) called on the UN to take an active role in bringing about an end to the Kachin conflict which began in June of last year when Burma army troops attacked KIO positions, ending a 17-year ceasefire.
The letter signed by KIO Central Committee Chairman Zawng Hra calls on the UN to “intervene before the conflict becomes even wider and more complex.” Zawng Hra warned that “there is strong evidence that the Burmese army is not only waging war against the KIO/KIA but also against the Kachin population as a whole. The Burmese army is now engaged in ethnic cleansing, and the conflict has now turned from one of political to racial in nature.”
In the letter the KIO urged Ban Ki Moon to consider sending “observer teams or intermediary teams to the conflict war zones, and to the towns and villages destroyed by the Burmese army, and to the IDP camps in KIO areas to which these townspeople have fled.”
In a similar vein, under Ban Ki Moon's direction the UN recently sent a team of observers to Syria to monitor the escalating conflict between the Assad regime and a loose coalition of armed opposition groups who are backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The KIO letter comes shortly after Ban Ki Moon publicly suggested during a press briefing in New York on May 9 that the UN general assembly may want to reconsider the continued operation of the UN's Special Envoy to Burma, a position currently held by Vijay Nambiar.
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press reported earlier this month that at least one Asian members state supported scrapping the Burma envoy "given the changes in Myanmar." It is also believed that several EU members states including Germany and Austria also support eliminating the position which has been in existence for some 20 years.
Nambiar whose role is officially known as the "Good Office on Myanmar" told reporters during a February 24 Press conference in New York he personally negotiated with Burmese government authorities to allow UN aid convoys to reach internally displaced people who have taken shelter inside territory controlled by the KIO.
According to Zawng Hra's letter “The KIO is grateful to the UN agencies that visited the IDP camps and rendered assistance to the IDPs. The KIO would like to request that the Secretary General continue to facilitate visits by UN personnel to conflict zones and IDP camps in Kachin State, so that appropriate assistance can be arranged and provided to the IDPs.”
During his February 24 press conference Nambiar claimed that the details of the aid shipments were worked out after his visit to Burma which took place between February 13 to 17. Nambiar suggested it took a fair amount of negotiating to come to an agreement according to Nambiar “There was certain difficulties posed by the government's insistence that government supplies should also be accompanied”.
Nambiar who previously served as Ban's Chief of Staff added “We continued talks with them and eventually they were able to relent to the extent that they said they would take both the both UN as well as government assistance up to the border. And if of course the rebels insisted that they would not receive the government assistance, they would hold back the government assistance and let the UN supplies convoy go through.”
It remains unclear if further UN aid convoys to the KIO controlled parts of Kachin state would in fact be possible without the intervention of a UN envoy like Nambiar.
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