Kachin conflict boosts trafficking, report says

Women in Myanmar’s northern Kachin State are increasingly susceptible to human trafficking, said a new report released on 5 June by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT). “Thousands of young women are at risk,” KWAT spokesperson Julia Marip told IRIN.

Sporadic clashes over the past two years between the Burmese government and Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which has been fighting for greater autonomy, have created greater opportunity for traffickers to prey on internally displaced persons (IDPs), the report said.

Despite recent peace talks, the ongoing conflict continues to block regular aid to the camps, fuelling poverty and trafficking, including a report of underage girls being sold to Chinese men for up to US$6,500. The KWAT report highlights 24 cases of IDPs forced into marriage, labour or the sex trade, but there are likely to be many more.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are over 85,000 IDPs in Kachin and Shan states, including over 50,000 in KIA-controlled areas.