Kachin Activists Mark War’s Anniversary with Demand for More Aid for IDPs

Kachin exiles called on the international community to do more for civilians displaced by eight years of recurrent war in northern Burma.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Kachin activists living abroad sent a letter to the Chiang Mai, Thailand, office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday to demand assistance for civilians displaced by a war that has now passed the eight-year mark, with no end in sight.

“Our main objective is to get more help from the international community for IDPs, who are suffering a lot,” said John Bai, one of the leaders of the campaign, referring to the more than 120,000 internally displaced persons affected by the conflict.

“The rainy season is now on its way, and we are very worried about our children, who are vulnerable to infectious diseases such as diarrhea,” he told reporters on Monday.

The IDPs live in more than 100 camps scattered around Kachin and Shan states. Many have insufficient quantities of even the most basic materials needed for their survival in the coming months of the rainy season, including shelters, plastic sheets, blankets, food, and medicine.

“I think it would be good if the Red Cross associations gave more assistance. They [IDPs] don’t have enough food. There are IDPs in both government- and KIA-controlled areas. All of them are suffering equally. Therefore, we demand assistance for them all,” said John Bai, who handed the letter over to an ICRC officer in Chiang Mai on Monday.

“What they [the ICRC] said was that they would receive the letter. I’m happy because they seem to understand the IDP issue,” he said.

The Kachin activists also held a ceremony and press conference at Chiang Mai’s Holiday Garden Hotel on Sunday to mark the eighth anniversary of the current conflict. They also prayed for the Kachin IDPs.

“More than 120,000 Kachin IDPs have fled from the fighting that has occurred since 2011. Their situation has not improved at all in that time. What I have seen is that their situation is getting worse. Therefore, we who are living abroad are carrying out activities to ensure that the IDPs are not forgotten, to raise awareness of their lives, and to get help for them,” the press conference’s organizer, Naw Latt, said to reporters.

On the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the war, the International Kachin Network also called on the international community to provide cross-border assistance to Kachin IDPs who cannot safely return to their homes.