Desperation of displaced in Myanmar's war-torn north
LAIZA, Myanmar (AFP) - As fierce fighting rages between Myanmar's army and ethnic Kachin rebels, tens of thousands of people forced to flee their homes have become trapped, with conflict on one side and an unsympathetic China on the other.
On the surface, daily life seems to carry on almost as normal in the rebel stronghold town of Laiza, near Myanmar's border with China in the far north.
But the relentless thud of artillery fire - often for hours at a time - provides a near-constant reminder of a bloody conflict that has torn through the area since a 17-year ceasefire between the military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) shattered last June.
Deadly clashes prompted thousands of civilians to seek refuge in camps, cut off from their homes and unable to work their land.