Kachin IDPs and Their Sense of Desperation Seven Years After Civil War

ICC Note: Seven years after Tatmadaw (Burmese army) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) interrupted a ceasefire agreement, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has reached 150,000. Many live in dramatic conditions in the 165 camps in Kachin state, where the majority are Christians. AsiaNews shares accounts of several IDPs and their desperation.

06/12/2018 Myanmar (Asia News) – The civil war in the northern state of Kachin has entered its seventh year. On 9 June 2011 Tatmadaw [the Burmese army and rebels of the Kachin Independence Army (Kia) interrupted a cease-fire lasting 17 years. Since then, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has exceeded 150,000. Among these, 130 thousand people live in dramatic conditions in the 165 camps built in Kachin and in the north of the neighboring ethnic state, Shan; 20 thousand are instead accommodated by the host community. In the first six months of 2018 alone, there have been over 6 thousand new IDPs. Here are some of the testimonies gathered by UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) officials in some of the structures.

U Hka Ro Yaw and his wife (photo 2) are now in a temporary shelter in a displacement site in Naung Nan village, Myitkyina Township. U Hka Ro Yaw worked as a school teacher for about 50 years. His children brought him and his wife to Myitkyina, carrying them on their backs after armed clashes broke out near their home in Injangyang Township in late April. One of his daughters said they had to hide in the forest for two weeks before they were able to head towards Myitkyina: “When we heard gunfire and the sound of fighter jets, we carried both of our parents on our backs and went into the forest to hide. We would come back home at night. ” After two weeks, the family finally decided to leave Injangynag after serious aerial bombing in the area. “Elderly people like my parents need healthcare and nutritional support. My father has lost his appetite since he has arrived here.” U Hka Ro Yaw himself said he wanted to go home. “I don’t want to stay here. I want to go back to my village, which is in a mountainous area. I will go home when the fighting stops.”

92-year-old Daw Bauk Nam (photo 1) and her daughter fled their homes as a result of armed clashes in Shan State in 2016. Since then, they have been sheltering in a camp for displaced people in Muse Township. Daw Bauk Nam said living conditions in the camp was difficult for elderly people. “Toilets in the camp are quite far from the shelters and it is not easy for elderly people to go to the toilet, especially at night. There is a camp-based clinic that provides basic healthcare. Elderly people in the camp often get ill and we need to go to the clinic to get treatment or medication. If the case is serious, the clinic transfers the patient to the hospital in town, in which case people need additional support including transportation.”

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