Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Kachin State have begun moving into a new housing project in Chipwi Township built by the Myanmar Red Cross Society.
The project, located in Makawk, a village about a mile from the town of Chipwi, is the first of its kind in Kachin State.
The first residents are volunteers who have agreed to move there from camps run by the Lorwor Baptist Convention (LBC) and Kachin Baptist Convention in Chipwi Township.
“We have been collecting the names of IDPs who are willing to voluntarily move to this housing project. There are many people who want to go, so we have selected the successful candidates by lottery,” said Taik Nyoi of the LBC.
“This is the first housing project for IDPs. The Red Cross Society will make more projects like this after this one,” she added.
So far, residents seem satisfied with their new accommodations, despite some problems.
“We moved in yesterday and had a prayer service. There is only one small water pipe for 11 households, so we don’t have enough water. We also have no electricity. All we have is the house. But it’s still better than when we were living in the IDP camp, because we feel that this is our home. So we are happy,” said Bawm Myaw, one of the project’s new residents.
Most of the IDPs who will be moving into the new housing fled from clashes between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army in 2012.
According to church leaders, only a few of the people currently sheltering in the church-run IDP camps will be moving into the housing project in Makawk. Most still hope to return to the villages they left behind seven years ago.
“I want to return to my native village. I don’t want to move into a housing project because there is nothing there, just houses. In our village, we had our own farmland,” said Bawm Nam, an IDP woman who spoke to KNG.
There are about 500 IDP families in Chipwi Township. Most of them want to return to their home villages and hope the government will start a resettlement program in the near future.