3,000 Kachin IDPs Expected to Return Home in Early 2020

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee (KHCC) says that it will try to help 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently living in camps around Kachin State return to their home villages in early 2020.

Sayar Hka Li, who is secretary-2 of the KHCC, said that the group would facilitate the return of 500 families from IDP camps in Myitkyina, Waingmaw, Bhamo, and Mansi townships in the first few months of the year.

“We will prepare for their resettlement in January and February. I expect that we will start the resettlement process in March. We are trying to return IDPs who really want to go home,” he told NMG.

According to Sayar Hka Li, the KHCC will organize the IDP return in a step-by-step manner.

“Our target is just 500 families, not all IDPs. We expect that at least 500 families will be able to return to their homes in 2020,” he said.

The KHCC said that IDPs currently residing in the village of Ah Kyae in Myitkyina Township, Tarlawgyi and Shwe Nyaung Pin IDP camps in Waingmaw Township, Kyauk Sakhan IDP camp in Bhamo Township, and Mung Hkawng IDP camp in Mansi Township will be supported by the program.

IDPs who spoke to NMG said that government officials began coming to the camps in August to collect information and identify IDPs who want to return to their homes.

“We won’t be happy if there is no lasting peace. What we want is for the Burma Army and the KIA [Kachin Independence Army] to sign a [ceasefire] agreement,” said one IDP who has already returned to his home village of Nam San Yang. “We want to know the concrete policies of both the government and the KIA on the IDP issue.”

He added that the issue has become increasingly urgent for many IDPs, as they fear they could end up losing their property due to their long absence.

“All IDPs want to return home because we are worried about losing our houses, our farmland, and our gardens, as there are more and more Chinese banana plantations in our area,” he said.

However, security remains the greatest concern. Many IDPs say they want to see the withdrawal of troops from both sides before they make the move back to their native villages.

“The longer we stay in an IDP camp, the more we lose. We have to consider many things when we think about returning home. The most essential thing is our security. We want all troops to withdraw from our village. We also want to be able to work freely in our area,” said Gum Seng, a resident of the Mai Ner IDP camp in Waingmaw.

The KHCC said it would cooperate with the Kachin State government to provide shelters, vocational training, education, healthcare and other services to IDPs who return home.

At a press conference held in the state capital Myitkyina on Saturday, the Kachin Baptist Convention and the Nippon Foundation of Japan announced that they would also support efforts to help IDPs return to their homes.

Yohei Sasakawa, the chairman of the Nippon Foundation, said that this would include US$5 million in financial assistance for the return of 3,000 Kachin IDPs.

Meanwhile, the KHCC said that it would continue to help both IDPs who want to go back home and those who are not yet ready to return.

“We will continue to help both IDPs who can return home and those who cannot. We are discussing how we can assist them,” Sayar Hka Li told NMG.

“I think it will only be possible for IDPs to return to villages where we only need to negotiate with the government or the KIA. If we have to negotiate with both sides, I think it will be impossible for them to return,” said Sayar Hka Li.

Some IDPs returned to the villages of Nam San Yang, N’jan Yang, and Nawng Pon earlier this year.