Ethnic refugees taught how to care for themselves

By September 18, 2012

Burma (MNN) — Last week, we told you about a report shedding light on the true conditions of Burma. We confirmed the truth of this report with Andy Pasma from Partners Relief and Development.

"'It's a new country,' they're telling us, but quite the opposite is true," Pasma said of government claims. "On the ground, things really are not any different."

He pointed to the Kachin state, located in northern Burma near the border of China, as an example. Fighting reignited last year between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), and Pasma said ongoing conflict has displaced over 75,000 people. Most reside in four main refugee camps in the Kachin state, while others are scattered throughout smaller camps.

"Things are pretty stark in these camps," said Pasma. Most food sources have been depleted, and shelter is hard to find. An upswing in violent activity over the past few weeks introduced even more refugees.

"Tensions are running high in the camps," Pasma said. "The fighting has been going on for over a year, and the camps are quite frankly overcrowded."

Partners provides food aid, shelter and medical assistance to ethnic refugees; click here to support their work. One couple is teaching the Kachin people how to help themselves.

"They're providing some medical training so that the Kachin people can also care for themselves," stated Pasma. He explained that this way, refugees don't have to completely rely on outside aid.

If refugees can't make it to a camp and the help it offers, Pasma continued, they have to take cover in the jungles. This might be the case for 9,000 people who recently fled from violence to a very remote area of northern Kachin state. They were able to escape from the fighting, but haven't yet reached a refugee camp. Partners has been desperately trying to deliver relief aid to these refugees, but the region's rugged territory presents a significant challenge.

Pray for refugees hiding in the jungles of northern Burma. A majority of the Kachin people are Christ-followers. Ask God to comfort and protect His people.

"It's difficult to see our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer," Pasma said. "Many times it's a life and death situation."

Continue praying that the conflict in Burma would be resolved, and ask God to show you how you can best serve Him.

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