A national-level policy discussion on the resettlement of Kachin internally displaced people (IDPs) and the closure of IDP camps were held in Myitkyina, Kachin State, on January 6.
Dr. Win Myat Aye, the Union minister of social relief and resettlement was present at the meeting representing the government. Government representatives have been looking to close the camps, many of which have been open since 2011, when a ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army broke down.
While members of the Burmese government insist that closures will happen “in line with international norms,” those working with IDPs are concerned about the circumstances to which displaced communities would return.
Gam Seng, who is a charge of the Catholic IDP camp in Mai Na in Myitkyina, said that IDPs were worried about being able to reclaim the land that they left behind.
“Our people have faced many difficulties regarding land ownership in remote areas because many people don’t have land ownership documents. What we want is for their land ownership to be approved with recommendations from their neighbors,” Gam Seng told KNG.
Maran Ja Seng Hkawn, parliamentarian for Njang Yang Township in Myitkyina District, asked about security, education, healthcare, and aid for returned IDPs, and the timeline for resettlement.
“Policies are much better on paper in this country. In practice, they don’t work,” she said. “I don’t just want policies on paper. I want them to really work.”
A committee formed last year is set to discuss the possibility of Kachin IDPs’ return to their homes, with leaders of Kachin religious organizations and a Union vice-minister serving as members.
There are around 100,000 IDPs due to armed conflict in Kachin and the northern Shan States.
Fighting between the Burma Army and the KIA has been reported as recently as this week.