KHCC to Meet KIO Leaders to Discuss IDP Return

Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson

Following the KIO meeting, the Kachin church leaders will also discuss the issue with government representatives.

The Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee (KHCC), headed by church leaders, will meet with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in the coming week to discuss the safe return of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kachin State.

Chairperson of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson told KNG that KHCC representatives will meet KIO leaders at their Laiza headquarters on March 7.

Following the meeting in Laiza, KHCC leaders will meet a delegation from the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center in the second week of March, Dr. Samson said.

“Our IDPs will return to an agreed upon place by both the government and KIO. We need a guarantee from both the government and KIO [for safe return],” the KBC chair said.

KHCC leaders already held discussions with IDPs in Waingmaw and Myitkyina, Kachin State on February 19 about preparing to leave the camps.

KHCC remains unable to confirm locations for IDP return. Dr. Samson told KNG that this would only be determined after meetings with both KIO and government delegations.

There are more than 80,000 displaced people in KIO-controlled areas and more than 40,000 people in government-controlled areas in Kachin State.

The Burmese government and military have declared that they would like IDPs to leave the camps, but the KIO has advised that displaced people should not return home until there is a political solution in place to the conflict.

Fighting has been ongoing in Kachin and northern Shan states since a ceasefire broke down between the KIO and the government in 2011. Some of the IDPs now in camps have been displaced by clashes multiple times.