Burma Govt Reps, Kachin Leaders Discuss IDP Return

Injangyang IDPs at Tanghpre camp in Myitkyina, Kachin State

A delegation from the Burmese government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) and leaders of Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee (KHCC) held an informal meeting in Yangon on Sunday to discuss the safe return of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kachin State.

Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, the chairperson of the Kachin Baptist Convention and one of the heads of the KHCC, said that talks between different actors will need to occur before people—some displaced since 2011—can go back home.

“After the KIO [Kachin Independence Organization] and the Tatmadaw [Burma Army] discuss the issue of IDPs, then we will know which areas our IDPs can return home to,” he told KNG.

Attending the meeting were U Zaw Htay and U Win Naing Tun from the NRPC. From the KHCC were Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, bishop Awng Dang, secretary Sara Hka Li and Ja Nan. The next such informal talks are expected to take place in early March.

Seventeen displaced families—more than 100 people—returned to the village of Nam San Yang in Waingmaw Township on January 30, following a joint arrangement by the Kachin State government and the Tatmadaw’s northern command.

According to one IDP, the state government has told them that they have prepared for 29 more families to go back at the end of February.

“I don't know whether there will be clashes near the village,” added, referring to Nam San Yang. KNG reported in early February that there are also concerns about landmines in the area.

Local sources say that the KIO has not been involved in the arrangements to send villagers back to Nam San Yang.

There are currently no formal talks between the KIO and the Tatmadaw about IDP return, according to Dr. Hkalam Samson. News has leaked that the KIO and the Tatmadaw will meet at some point between February 13 and 20, but it is unclear whether it will occur in China or Burma.

Local leaders are expecting that the future of IDPs will be on the agenda at the meeting.