Monday, August 31, 2009

US pressures Burma on refugees

US pressures Myanmar as nervous refugees head home
Robert J. Saiget (AFP)
NANSAN, China — The United States on Monday urged Burma to cease attacks on ethnic groups as refugees who fled into China after deadly clashes between junta forces and ethnic rebels nervously headed home. Washington stepped in, piling pressure on, after thousands of people poured into China fleeing fighting in the country's remote north west in recent weeks and Beijing complained of attacks on Chinese-owned businesses.
  • PHOTOS: Chinese soldier stands guard at the border separating China and Burma; Chinese guards watch Burmese crossing back into Burma (AFP). Burmese child runs past Chinese paramilitary police preparing to clean refugee camp (AP). More photos
"We urge the Burmese authorities to cease their military campaign and to develop a genuine dialogue with the ethnic minority groups, as well as with Burma's democratic opposition," US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

"The brutal fighting has forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes for safety in Thailand and China, and has reduced both stability and the prospects for national reconciliation in Burma," he said. Washington was working on a "Burma strategy," he added.

Officials in China's southwestern Yunnan province have said 37,000 refugees streamed into their country after days of fighting in Kokang, a mainly ethnic Chinese region of Burma's Shan state. More>>