Displaced Kachin who fled fighting in northeastern Burma are running out of food after no-one came to their camp to help them during the pandemic.
Since the government imposed a lockdown across the country at the end of March to prevent the spread of coronavirus, residents of Lambraw Yang internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Namti have been struggling, Rev Maran Yaw Htung told KNG. The IDPs haven’t received any support for a long time, he said, explaining some don’t even have salt left. “They used to be daily wage earners before the pandemic, but now they can’t leave to find employment.”
Rev Maran Yaw Htung wants the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) to provide them with basic rations and in early April, he sent a letter to KBC officials requesting assistance for the IDPs. Hka Li, head of KBC’s development department, told KNG they plan to help the IDPs but the organization is “facing a few difficulties raising donations.” This is “why we can’t give them support right away. But we will as soon as possible.”
Slg. Lajing Hkawng Zawng, a resident of the camp, said they could take care of themselves if they were allowed to leave for work but with the lockdown they’re “struggling just to have salt and chilli.” In the last two months, the Karuna Mission Social Solidarity donated 15,000 kyat (est. US$10.70) to each person in the camp but it’s not enough to buy their food, he said. “We’re also worried about the spread of the virus.”
There are over 500 people from 100 families living in Lambraw Yang camp, located on the compound of Kachin Baptist Church in Mogaung township.
The IDPs fled when the Burma Army attacked Kachin Independence Army Battalion-11 near their village Kasung in April 2018. Two of the camp’s residents who returned to work on their farms were injured after stepping on a landmine on March 5.