A new report by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) raises concerns over how the Burma government’s war against the Kachin has greatly increased the risk of human trafficking along the China-Burma border, with young girls or women targeted.
The report, titled ‘Pushed to the Brink’, states that the displacement of over 100,000 people over the past two years, lack of refugee protection and shortages of humanitarian aid have become “significant new push factors fueling the trafficking of Kachin women to China, already a long-standing problem.”
KWAT’s report included 24 cases of human trafficking from Kachin border areas since the resumption of fighting in June 2011, mostly involving young women and girls displaced by the war. The women were often tricked, drugged and even raped, and sold to Chinese men or families as brides or bonded laborers for around 40,000 Yuan (about $6,500 USD) per person, according to the report.
Some of people were trafficked far east as Shandong and Fujian provinces.
Denied refugee status in China, thousands of displaced Kachin are sheltered in crowded, basic camps along the border, that receive little aid.
Desperate to survive, Kachin increasingly are forced to cross the border illegally, thus becoming vulnerable to traffickers.
Julia Marip, KWAT spokesperson, said that the precarious existence of displaced Kachin was a recipe for human catastrophe.
“Push tens of thousands of people onto China’s doorstep, deprive them of food and status and you’ve created a perfect storm for human trafficking.”
KWAT criticised the United States’ decision to raise Burma from its bottom-level ranking in their 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report and pointed out that, “Burma’s much-proclaimed “anti-trafficking task forces” are non-operational on the Kachin State-China border.”
Burma’s military launched an offensive in 2011 against the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and its military force the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). In November last year Burma’s military intensified efforts to crush the KIA, using helicopter gunships, fighter jets and heavy artillery to dislodge KIA positions, leading to civilian casualties. Although Burma received criticism from the international community, including the UK and U.S, economic constraints on the country have continued to be lifted.