IDPs Running Short Of Supplies

By Network Media Group
Saturday, February 22, 2020

Displaced from fighting between Kachin and Myanmar armies villagers in the remote and isolated Putao need food, blankets and warm clothes to ward off the frigid temperatures in the mountainous region located in the northern tip of Kachin State.

“The local NGOs used to provide rice, cooking oil and salt. When transportation poised a problem, they gave us money.” Hpone Htein, in charge of Lon Sut internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp, told NMG. The thing is there’s not many merchants selling the items the IDPs need in the camp, Hpone Htein said, and the stock they sell is too expensive.

There are also problems procuring the funds to pay petrol costs needed to run pumps for wells built by the ICRC and Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC). It costs about 160,000 kyat (US$111) each month. The KBC pays 70,000 kyat (US$48), Hpone Htein said, and residents pays the remaining balance leaving little left in their pockets.

More than 280 IDPs from 61 families live in Lon Sut, established in 2013 after fighting between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) drove the villagers from their homes. There are many elderly, and over a third of the population are children.

Over the long lean years survival in the camp has become increasingly more difficult. When they first arrived they were well looked after but over time they received less assistance, IDPs said.

“I don’t know how to describe my difficulties…I just want to go home,” said Dai Awng. “Very few reporters have visited us and we’ve received little support. I think some people have already forgotten us.” Some residents work as daily labourers, she said, but there aren’t enough jobs for everyone.

Putao is only accessible by road during the Summer months. In the Winter, temperatures drop to the single digits and even below zero.

The IDPs are growing frustrated with the long running conflict preventing them from returning to their villages. A letter was sent to the KBC asking it’s assistance to request help from the Kachin State chief minister and government to facilitate a move to a more secure location.

The IDPs come from villages Putao, Mapyone, N’kha Ga, N’phe Ga, Phakang Yang (Ganai Yang) and Hnin Tan Gawng in Putao District.