Myanmar refugees return from China

Bac k to home: Refugees walk past a Chinese soldier towards the border separating China and Myanmar, in the Chinese border town of Nansan on Monday, Yunnan province.  AFP

By Monday, the Myanmar troops appeared to have won control of Kokang, a heavily ethnic Chinese enclave controlled by local rulers and their militia, after weeks of fighting that forced tens of thousands of residents to flee to neighbouring Yunnan province in China.
The Myanmar government said on Sunday the situation had returned to normal, adding that 26 government soldiers or police had been killed.

The conflict was triggered after Myanmar deployed troops in the area to disarm insurgents. Myanmar wants ethnic groups to take part in an election next year, the first in two decades. Activists and observers say the junta sent in its soldiers because it is trying to forcibly recruit rebel fighters for an army-run border patrol force.  The Yunnan province government has said it has sheltered 37,000 refugees in Nansan and other towns near the border, but China has shown no eagerness to host them for long.

“What I can tell you is the border situation is returning to normal,” Chinese Public Security Ministry spokesman Wu Heping said. By afternoon, growing crowds of Kokang residents felt safe enough to begin returning to their homes, with hundreds pressing past border checks shouldering bundles of blankets and clothes. “Of course I am scared (to go back), but there is no choice,” said Liu Shurong, one of the refugees about to return to Kokang. If you don’t go back to guard your shop, it will be looted.”
Supervising officials estimated, around a third to a half of the Kokang refugees in Nansan had gone back across the border. Chinese troops continued to shepherd them onto trucks and buses taking them to the border gate.

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