Overseas Kachin living in Singapore and Malaysia raised more than $20,000 to support Kachin refugees in northern Burma, by holding two special charity concerts over the Christmas season.
The donations will be split, with half going to help internally displaced people (IDPs) sheltering in government controlled areas and the other half going to help those who have fled to territory controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), according to Tangbau Awng Di, secretary of the Singapore Kachin Culture and Literature Body.
“The shows were organized by Kachin people in each country and other people from Burma also joined the concerts’, said Awng Di during a phone interview Saturday.
18 popular Kachin singers including members of the newly formed “Yak Tim Pyaw Tim Rau” group, traveled from Burma to take part in the shows. On December 26 a fund raising concert was held in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. According to concert organizer Nhkum La Seng, the Malaysian concert had an attendance of more than 1,000 people.
The second concert was held in Singapore on January 2 and was attended by approximately 300 people. A Chin organization in Singapore also donated funds for the Kachin relief effort.
Both Malaysia and Singapore are home to large numbers of refugee and migrant workers from Burma.
The majority of workers from Burma living in Malaysia work in farm plantations, factories, fishing or construction. Burmese labour activists in Malaysia estimate that more than half a dozen workers from Burma were killed in industrial accidents during the construction of Kuala Lumpur's famed twin towers, the headquarters of Malaysia's national oil firm Petronas.
More refugees expected
Doi Pyi Sa, who heads the KIO’s IDP and Refugee Relief Committee told the Kachin News Group that his organization had a list of more than 50,000 refugees in both government and KIO-controlled areas as well as inside China. He believes however that the total number of people displaced by the fighting could be as high as 70,000. More refugees are expected as the fighting continues.
There are an estimated 40,000 refugees sheltering in KIO run camps along the China border. According to volunteers working on the ground refugees in the KIO area are in dire need of vital supplies. On December 12 the UN sent five Burmese staff and a small aid convoy to visit refugee camps located at Laiza, the KIO's headquarters. Nearly one month later the UN has yet to make good on its promise to return with more aid.
More than 15,000 people are thought to have taken shelter in government controlled areas like Manmaw (Bhamo), N’Mawk (Momauk), Manje (Mansi), Myitkyina, Waimaw (Waingmaw), Putau (Putao) and Hkawnglanghpu, according to Kachin relief groups. Most of these people are staying in Kachin churches or with relatives.