UPDATE: Kachin IDPs Once Again Prove Their Resiliency
8 June 2017
Kachin State, Burma
Due to heavy fighting and military offensives conducted by the Burma Army into Kachin Independence Army (KIA) held areas, especially since August 2016, the lives of thousands of IDPs have been seriously disrupted. Some of the Burma Army’s artillery, mortar and air munitions landed inside and around IDP camps located north of Laiza, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) Headquarters. As a result hundreds of these IDPs fled to other, previously developed IDP camps while others crossed the icy river into China. The camps affected the most by the fighting were Maga Yang and Zai Awng. The majority of the IDPs from these two camps have fled to the Chinese border and begun building temporary living structures in an area called Sha It Yang, while some of these families felt they would be safer relocating further south to the handful of developed camps located just outside of Laiza.
As a result of this upheaval Free Burma Rangers (FBR) immediately sent a headquarter team to these areas to conduct humanitarian relief efforts from October through March. (See previous FBR Situation Field Reports on this website). The following is a very brief follow-up to the camps most affected during the fall’s military offensive along with photos of the work that the IDPs have done to make their camps more livable with support from FBR.
This camp was developed in December 2011 and, with the addition of a few new IDPs from the recent fighting, Hkau Shau now houses and supports 886 villagers. The camp leader, Nhkum Ma Hkaw, said that the camp is supported by the KIO and the Kachin Baptist Church (KBC) for food and infant care. More serious medical issues are sent to hospitals in China. In early April there was a cyclone that struck the new temporary IDP camp, Sha It Yang, blowing away many of the new structures; nine of the those families relocated to Hkau Shau.
During FBR’s visit to Hkau Shau last October the camp leader asked for FBR support to build two foot bridges across the small rivers that would connect them to China. This is necessary for the villagers to be able to buy supplies and for the IDPs to look for migrant day work in China. The following pictures show them completing the first bridge while beginning construction of the smaller foot bridge. FBR also supplied the camp leader with a new computer for the office staff.
Sha It Yang
This is the location that accepted the majority of the new IDPs who fled Zai Awng in late Dec/early Jan. It currently houses 400 families totaling 1800 villagers. FBR conducted a relief mission there in February. At that time the new camp still consisted only of makeshift structures with tarpaulins for roofs. During the mission FBR discovered that an inactive ranger from training about five years ago was living at Sha It Yang with his family. He accepted FBR’s offer to become active again and is currently on a mission with other Kachin FBR leaders.
On April 2nd a cyclone hit Sha It Yang and blew away many of the temporary structures. The KIO came to the rescue along with the KBC and they currently have built over 200 permanent wood houses with approximately 150 more to be built. The following photos show the difference between the new, solid housing structures compared to the temporary ones with tarpaulin roofs. Our resident ranger will keep FBR abreast of the progress and the needs of this new camp.
Masat Shadow BP 8
This IDP camp was developed in November 2011 and currently houses 650 men, women and children. It is high up in the mountains and fairly isolated due to the rugged terrain and washed out roads. During an FBR mission here in October 2016 the camp leader asked FBR’s assistance in building a hydro power plant that would produce enough electricity for 100 houses. FBR supported their request and the following recent photos are of the hydro plant the villagers built.