Kokang refugees flee into southern China as fighting flares

Refugees, mostly Han Chinese, are fleeing fighting in Burma's Kokang region to seek refuge at a refugee camp in southwestern Yunnan province, The Irawaddy Online reported on Monday quoting

Chinese authorities have estimated the number of refugees at the camp at more than 20,000 and it is rising every day.

Li Yinzthong, an aid manager at the camp, said the camp would look after the refugees until they decide when to go back to Burma.

The violence in Kokang region is a blow to efforts by Burma's de facto leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to reach a comprehensive peace agreement with Burma's ethnic minorities, some of them have been rebelling against the central administration for decades.

The conflict is also fraying ties between China and Burma. Kokang has close ties with China as the majority of the people are ethnic Chinese speaking a Chinese dialect and using yuan as currency.

Kokang residents began fleeing into southern China when the MNDAA launched a surprise raid on Burma police and military targets in the town of Laukkai, resulting in the deaths of 30 people on March 6.

Burmese military responded with small and large scale attacks, using artilleries and armoured cars and other heavy weapons.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)