Kachin IDPs Celebrate Christmas in Village

By Network Media Group
Sunday, December 27, 2020

Kachin civilians displaced by the conflict in Burma celebrated Christmas in their village church in Kachin State for the first time in nine years.

“All the villagers are very happy about it,” said Ma Kawt Nan, originally from Dabert Yang village in Waingmaw Township but now living in Mai Ner KBC internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp.

Pastor Lashi Sam Awng said the prayer ceremony and celebrations in their village were different from previous holidays. “In the IDP camp, we can’t do whatever we want. But in our village we can speak freely.”

With the assistance of the Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee (KHCC), which is working closely with the government, Burma Army and Kachin Independence Organization/Army, many IDPs from Myitkyina, Waingmaw, Bhamo and Momauk townships will return to Dabert Yang starting in March. KHCC plans to build homes for returnees in early 2021.

During an interview with NMG in early November, the committee’s spokesperson Hka Li said there were at least 216 families or 800 people from 17 IDP camps who want to return. Authorities began compiling family lists of those who wanted to return home in early December, while the Burma Army has reportedly started to eliminate landmines planted around the area.

KHCC will provide returnees with enough rice, cooking oil, salt and beans for three to six months, Hka Li said. “Right now, we’re getting them ready to go home. Afterwards, we’ll help them with their daily survival.”

Since the conflict between KIO/A and the Burma Army began on June 9, 2011, there are nearly 100,000 IDPs who remain in the camps.