Yunnan residents offer help to Myanmar refugees

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 12, 2015
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Yunnan residents have established a grassroots organization to provide temporary accommodation to refugees fleeing from the Kokang conflict in Myanmar.

The exodus of Kokang refugees from Myanmar, who share the same language with their cross-border neighbors in Nansan, Yunnan Province, has aroused great compassion in the rural Chinese town.

The exodus of Kokang refugees from Myanmar. [File photo]

Nansan has been in chaos in recent days, as flocks of people have rushed there, taking up large numbers of hotel rooms and causing price hikes and traffic jams, said a local woman surnamed Mu.

A store owner who sells shoes and bags, Mu has found her turnover has doubled in the past few days, and she is not the only one who has seen her business boosted because of the dramatic population influx. The sudden surge of demand has extended from local stores and hotels to restaurants and led some retailers to raise prices. A bowl of rice noodles, a Yunnan specialty, for example, has increased in price from six yuan (US$ 0.96) to 20 yuan in some small restaurants. The cost of a tricycle ride has gone up from five yuan to 20-30 yuan and the rates of a hotel room from 50-60 yuan to hundreds, if not thousands of yuan per night.

But amid the frenetic price hikes come a group of local people who have been searching for cheap accommodations via online social networks, such as Wechat and Weibo (China's equivalents to Twitter and Facebook), for the refugees in need.

Mu, the founder of the organization, recalled that everything started on Monday when she checked her Moments on her WeChat, and a tingle of sympathy gripped her as she came to a message that read: "Gunfire was heard and battles in Moutai (a village in Kokang Region) broke out."

The clashes recently erupted between the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Myanmar government, followed by intermittent air strikes and street battles, which have expanded to Laokai, capital of the Kokang Special Region, on Monday.

The conflict has caused a huge exodus of refugees clogging at the border of China's Yunnan Province.

A refugee whose name is pronounced Jiali in Chinese said: "We are six adults and five children altogether and one person is going to have a baby soon. Besides, my child is no more than three months old."

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