KBC: Tens of Thousands of Kachin IDPs Face Food Shortages

China is reportedly blocking the import of food for displaced communities in KIA-controlled areas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has said that around 70,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) are currently suffering from increased food insecurity.

“Nearly 70,000 IDPs who have lived in IDP camps in the border area have faced food shortages,” KBC chairperson Dr. Hkalam Samson told NMG, referring to the displaced communities near the Burma-China border.

Food rations were once brought in from China, but KBC said that China began blocking these imports recently without explanation.

“We have imported rice, cooking oil, salt and beans from China for seven years. Two weeks ago, Chinese authorities blocked it without giving any reason,” the chairperson explained, adding that border crossings in the area have been closed and that Chinese soldiers have begun military drills.

KBC held a meeting last week regarding food delivery for the IDPs, and plan to coordinate with local outreach organizations.

A man in charge of the Wei Kyaing IDP camp told NMG that they have not been able to import rice from China since October.

“We have faced many difficulties. We used to give full rations, like a bag of rice. Now it’s difficult to give even one to two cans of rice on a regular basis,” he said.

A woman from the same IDP camp said that she lives “without enough food” and that finding work in the area is difficult.

“We cannot even eat pounded chili,” she said, referring to the most basic addition to rice.

The camps in the KIA-controlled area near Laiza include those in Mai Ja Yang, Hponlon Yang, and Wei Kyaing. According to those managing the camps, all are facing the same food shortages.

Dr. Hkalam Samson said that he was concerned that the blocked transportation of rice was an attempt to pressure the KIA to sign Burma’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

Representatives of KBC and the Nippon Foundation met in Myitkyina on Monday to discuss solutions in addressing the food insecurity, the chairperson added, saying that he hoped it would lead to successful negotiations with the Chinese authorities.