FBR Team Helps Communities Prepare for Conflict and Displacement
Naga Self-Administration Zone, Sagaing Division, Burma
17 November 2023
*Village names not mentioned and faces blurred for security purposes.
The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) Naga regional team conducted a strategic relief mission recently, proactively training and caring for the oppressed populations in Sagaing Divison, Burma, who are on the brink of displacement. Early on in their mission, the team met with the Eastern Naga National Organization (ENNO) and Eastern Naga Defense Army (ENDA), and encouraged them to continue protecting the civilian populations from Burma Army brutality. The ENNO and ENDA explained how delicate the political situation is in their area and how they are very worried for the people. They explained that if and when more fighting occurs, the Burma Army will likely retaliate by burning villages and killing villagers. Anticipating these crises, the FBR team helped facilitate communication between ENDA leaders and different community leaders regarding the current political scenario and counseled them on how to best prepare for an internally displaced people (IDP) crisis. It is significant to note the courage it takes to conduct missions in this area as there are currently four FBR Naga team members in jail on four-year sentences for being part of the resistance movement.
While serving the different communities, the FBR Naga team leader recounts how the villagers were “living under a type of fear, psychosis of war, even though there is no war right now in their region. The effect of war has already traumatized them because they are aware of how people in other parts of Burma are suffering. Also, women were crying for their kids because they have nothing to feed them. The prices of everything has now become so high. Men cannot find work to earn money to support their families. Some families are eating pig feed. It is heart-breaking to see these conditions and situation in the Naga region.”
In some villages the FBR team visited, villagers reported that the Burma Army will come in, kill their livestock, demand information and beat them if they don’t get what they want. In one predominantly Christian village, the Burma Army threatened to burn their homes for being Christian and not supporting the Burma Army, which is predominantly supported by Buddhist villages in the area. Because of food shortages and economic downfalls, villagers also lack access to healthcare and are unable to send their children anywhere to receive education.
In response to the people’s suffering, the FBR team was able to provide much-needed medicine, healthcare and encouragement to the people. The team also provided training for the villagers and leaders on how to document and report human rights abuses and how to prepare for being displaced by war.
Civilian populations in these regions are living in tough conditions and are anticipating even worse conditions if conflict escalates. Please pray for wisdom for the ethnic armed organizations working to protect the civilian populations, for the Burma Army in these regions to collapse, and for the civilians caught in the middle to receive the help they need.
Thanks and God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers