Failing to Secure Humanitarian Aid, Kachin IDPs Return Home Amid Instability

The Burmese government refused recognition of the camp.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Internally displaced people (IDPs) from a Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC)-administrated camp in northern Shan State’s Muse returned to Mongpaw village on Wednesday because of a lack of outside humanitarian assistance.

The Burmese government announced in 2017 that they did not recognize the Muse camp as an official IDP camp and did not allow them to be provided them with assistance; the Baptist church in Muse has provided aid there for years.

After the government refused recognition of the camp, the World Food Programme “completely stopped” giving assistance to the IDPs there, according to Zau Rang, KBC’s secretary for Momauk Township.

“Nobody is left now. IDPs asked for help before they returned to their village. We had to manage transportation for their return home,” said Lahpai Zau Awng, a Muse resident working with the IDPs, adding that there were more than 180 people from 40 families.

Naw Din, an IDP said that the many difficulties of life in the camp contributed to the decision to return to Mongpaw, even though the area may not yet be stable and free of armed conflict.

“It’s difficult to say whether our area is peaceful or not. I cannot predict the situation. It’s been over five years since we left our village,” he said. “We are not okay here [in the camp]. We don’t get enough food rations. We have to work for our daily survival.” U Naw Din said to NMG.

IDPs typically sought work as daily laborers in sugar cane and cornfields and rice paddies.

Zau Rang said that church leaders came together to discuss the IDPs’ return, and had prepared for it since 2018, but were awaiting greater stability in the region, as well as more assistance.

“They are not forced to return home. Church leaders, local authorities and administrators discussed the safe return of IDPs. After discussions, we managed their return home,” he explained.

Church leaders prepared temporary shelters for the returning IDPs in Mongpaw village.

“They can live in a temporary shelter. Now the school is about to open soon. They must take recommendation letters from schools in Muse for their children. These children will have to submit them to schools nearby their village,” Zau Rang said.

The IDPs from the Muse KBC camp fled clashes near Mongpaw between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in May 2014. Around 20 families returned to Mongpaw from the camp in Muse in 2017.

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun, secretary of the Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team, told media that the Burma Army seized seven KIA camps near Mongpaw village in the third week of April.