UN rights expert calls for aid to Karen State (Burma)

Feb 27, 2007 (DVB)-United Nations special human rights rapporteur to Burma Paulo Sergio Pinheiro has called for immediate humanitarian access to conflict zones in the country.


As Burmese military attacks against the Karen National Union continue to cause mass internal displacement, food insecurity and health crises in Karen State, Pinheiro called on the government to allow aid groups to help affected communities.

"Humanitarian assistance should not be made hostage of politics . . . It would be a terrible mistake to wait for the political normalization of [Burma] to help and to empower the affected communities and their representatives," Pinheiro said in a statement on Friday.

Both the KNU and the Karen Women's Organization hailed Pinheiro's statement today, saying it was vital that aid be directed into Burma's conflict zones.

Naw Blooming Night Zan, joint general secretary of the KWO told DVB today there were about 25,000 internally displaced Karen hiding in the jungle that were in desperate need of assistance.

"They've got no village to stay in, no food and no cultivation. They do not dare go back to their villages because there were mines planted everywhere," Naw Blooming Night Zan said.

"If [aid groups] will be allowed into Karen State, that'd be good. They do need to go in because only then will they witnessing the truth we have been talking about."

According to the KNU, the Burmese military is continuing to mobilise troops to attack the rebel group. KNU joint secretary Saw David Takapaw said battles between the group's armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, and the Burmese military continued every day.

"They burn down villages, rape and kill people. As we have limited numbers of troops, we couldn't protect all of [the villagers]," he said.

Von: 27.02.2007 http://english.dvb.no

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