Published: Fri, March 10, 2017
Science | By Kerry Wheeler

China says 20000 Myanmar refugees have fled across border

China says 20000 Myanmar refugees have fled across border

At least 20,000 people from Myanmar have fled across the border to China after violence erupted between ethnic rebels and the security forces.

Another estimated 20,000 people remain internally displaced in Rakhine state in the west because of inter-communal and military conflicts with Rohingya Muslims that the United Nations has said constitutes the "likely commission of crimes against humanity".

Fighting broke out early Monday when 30 soldiers from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the formal name of the Kokang army, attacked police and military posts and civilian buildings, leaving about 30 people-police, civilians, and insurgents-dead. A separate group of fighters later attacked other sites in Laukkai.

The fighting has raised fears of a repeat of 2015, when the displaced flooded across the border into China, raising tensions with Beijing.

Following closely the military conflict at the border area of China- Myanmar in the Kokang region, China on Tuesday urges the concerned parties to maintain conducive to peace.

He urged both sides to adopt peaceful means in resolving their differences through dialogue and consultation.

"Access to displaced people in Non-Government Controlled Areas is severely restricted for global organizations", the update said.

China is providing humanitarian assistance while taking steps to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border region, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

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The area is in northeastern Shan state, which has seen repeated bouts of heavy fighting between the army and a band of well-armed ethnic minority militias since November, undercutting a government peace bid.

"We have been very scared since the fighting", said Myint Kyi, a 44-year-old construction worker who was among those sheltering in a monastery.

The Burma Army told the MNDAA, TNLA and AA that the groups could join the peace conference if they first announced they had abandoned their armed struggle, according to the statement.

Many groups in the border region share close cultural ties with China, speaking Chinese dialects and using the country's yuan currency.

It added that a further 20 "burned bodies" had been found alongside weapons.

"Residents in town are fleeing", an army officer told AFP.

The Northern Alliance, a coalition of rebel groups including the MNDAA and the powerful Kachin Independence Army (KIA), confirmed its participation on Facebook, where it claimed to launch the the attack "to resist an enemy offensive in self-defense". But Beijing also bared its teeth after Myanmar's bombs landed in Chinese territory and killed five people.

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