Kachin IDP Camps Restrict Movement During COVID-19 Outbreak

By Network Media Group
Friday, September 4, 2020

Leaders of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Kachin State are restricting movement in and out of camps in an effort to prevent infections among IDP populations after coronavirus outbreaks were reported in Sittwe and Yangon.

Htu San, leader of the Ze Lum IDP camp, told NMG that IDPs are prohibited from leaving the camp for daily employment. But some students are still allowed to leave for their classes. As a precaution, “we’re recording every time someone leaves the camp, where they go and when they return.”

As soon as news broke of a “second wave” of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Tang Ja, head of Pa La Na IDP camp, said they locked down. “We don’t allow any outsiders to enter our camp,” he said, explaining residents can make short trips to the market or other locations but must first inform camp leaders. “If a person is infected, it would be very difficult to control it here.”

Other IDP camps such as Mang Kreng, Shwe Sett, Ja Mai Kawng and Mai Ner have also introduced restrictions that residents hope will prevent viral outbreaks.

Ja Nu Mai, from Mai Ner IDP camp, said residents can leave to accept daily employment. “If we can’t work, who will come to give us food?” She explained that they need to sign out before they leave and sign in when they return. And wash their hands with soap.

Without a fence around the perimeter of the camp, Bawk Naw, the leader of the Pammati IDP camp, said it’s difficult to restrict residents’ movements. They have launched a health awareness campaign, and IDPs who remain outside the camp for more than a day must stay in a quarantine facility upon their return.

During the pandemic, many IDPs are struggling to put food on the table. Now that they can’t work, Htu San wants help from the government. She said the World Food Programme gave each resident 10,000 kyat ($7.50) but it’s not enough. Htu San heard that the numbers of confirmed cases are rising nationally. She worries what will happen if someone in the camp gets it. “We may need some assistance with health matters.”

The Ministry of Health and Sports reported on September 4 that there were 1,133 confirmed cases in the country, while 359 recovered and 7 died.