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China denies sending Myanmar refugees to combat zone

(Xinhua)

08:14, July 05, 2012

KUNMING - A border official in Southwest China's Yunnan province on Wednesday said border authorities have not forced Myanmar refugees to return to a conflict-torn region in their home country.

The denial came in response to a report by Human Rights Watch in late June claiming that China forced some Kachin minority refugees from northern Myanmar to return to their country, as well as refused to offer them basic services.

There has been no significant influx or overstay of refugees since armed clashes broke out between Myanmar government forces and the ethnic Kachin Independence Army in June last year, said a government official from Dehong prefecture, which borders Myanmar's Kachin state.

There have been no forced returns of Kachin refugees, said Sun Konglong, deputy secretary-general of the Dehong prefecture government.

Amid escalating violence at home, about 3,000 Myanmar border residents, mostly women, children and elderly, have entered Dehong to seek refuge with their Chinese relatives, Sun said.

"The clashes are still occurring now and then. Although many of my friends worry about their lives in the future, they aren't willing to abandon their families and businesses to seek refuge in China," said a Myanmar resident who is visiting China on a business trip.

"For those who have relatives in China, they usually seek refuge with their relatives for a couple of days when a clash breaks out and return home when the fighting is over," he said.

The current situation along the border is orderly and stable, and there has been no disorderly assembly of Kachin refugees in China, Sun said.

Chinese authorities have made efforts to improve entry and exit services on the China-Myanmar border, as well as implemented measures to deal with emergency situations.

Sites for refugees and related service facilities have been established, and humanitarian aid, including medication to prevent contagious diseases, has been provided to refugees within Myanmar.

China will offer more aid if border residents asked for more assistance, Sun said.

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