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6/28/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – Since the February 1 military coup that deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected civilian government, infighting between the Burmese military and pro-democracy groups has reached a boiling point. The fighting has forced many Burmese people to flee their villages out of fear for their lives, leading to a significant spike in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the country.
Many of Myanmar’s IDP camps near Kachin state are already full from the infighting the country experienced following the broken ceasefire in November 2011. The residents of these IDP camps rely on donations and support from NGOs to get by. However, since the fighting has restarted, it has become increasingly difficult for aid groups to access the camps.
International Christian Concern (ICC) partnered with Free Burma Rangers (FBR), a Christian NGO working to bring help, hope and love to people in the conflict zones, to make two visits to Burmese IDPs in March and April of this year. The pandemic and the recent military coup meant that these two visits were the first time the rangers had access to these camps in two years. They made the most of their opportunity to access the camps.
During their two missions in March and April, FBR visited four camps and distributed food and supplies to 1,539 IDPs. Their medical team treated 150 patients and provided medicine to three IDP camps.
For their first mission in March, a team of rangers went to visit the BP8 and BP6 IDP camps, located in Kachin state near Chinese border. Kachin state has one of the highest concentrations of Christians in the country. Ninety-two families (335 people total) live in the BP8 camp, and forty-three families (300 people total) live in the BP6 camp. Many of the IDPs in those camps have been there since the fighting in November of 2011. During their visit, a team of five rangers distributed food and supplies and provided medical treatment as needed.
In April, FBR undertook another mission to aid IDP camps in the majority-Christian Kachin state. During the thirteen-day expedition, the rangers visited two more IDP camps. There are a total of 191 families (885 people total) living in these two camps. Traveling via boat and motorbike, the rangers brought food and medical supplies to the vulnerable. They were able to stay three days total at each of the camps.
Through ICC’s support, the rangers were able to distribute food supplies, including rice, cooking oil, and dried fish, to the IDPs in addition to items such as soap powder and medicine. At both camps, the rangers ran a medical clinic where they treated both adults and children for illnesses such as malaria and HIV.
During their March and April visits, in addition to providing much-needed medical care and food supplies, the rangers also ran a children’s program for the kids at the camps each day they were there. FBR designed the program, and it is called the Good Life Club (GLC). GLC provides spiritual encouragement to the kids through songs, games, crafts, and stories. It also includes preventative healthcare education.
Each time they visit an IDP camp, the rangers designate one member of their four or five-person team to connect with the kids and run this program. During their April mission, 200 kids participated in the GLC, which made the children very happy. After FBR left the camps in April, one of the children asked his mother when the “Power Rangers” would return. The families at the camps greatly appreciated the love and encouragement their children received from the rangers through the GLC.
The residents of these IDP camps are families, children, mothers, and fathers who can no longer return to their homes and their livelihoods because the fighting has made their old lives too dangerous. They need love, hope, and encouragement as much as they need food, supplies, and medical aid. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated their feelings of isolation and hopelessness, which is why these visits by the FBR, partially funded by ICC, are so important.
Please continue to pray for FBR’s work to provide aid to people internally displaced by the conflict in Myanmar. Please also pray for the residents of these IDP camps; that they would continue to find sources of hope and encouragement in this challenging and dangerous time.
For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: email@example.com.