Internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Kachin State town of Namti relocated to a village outside of the town as part of a COVID-19 prevention plan, but say that their basic needs are not being met in the new location
The IDPs from Lambraw Yang Roman Catholic Church and Myo-U ward in Namti moved to Nyaungdaw village in early April to reduce crowding amid the pandemic. Some 400 people are originally from the village of Kasung and more than 280 from the village of Zup Mai Yang, but fled during fighting between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
Head of the new camp, Zau Hkun, said that they lack food, water, electricity, and sufficient toilets in Nyaungdaw.
“Our old camp was really narrow. Buildings were built from bamboo and had plastic roofs. It was not convenient for living. We had to have 10 people stay in a room of eight square feet,” he said. “When we were facing difficulties, COVID-19 started spreading. Therefore, we moved to the new camp even though its construction was incomplete,” Zau Hkun told KNG.
He added that no aid organization or health workers had visited the IDPs at the new camp.
“We need food. We don’t know the situation around the new camp. We cannot go to work outside the camp because of COVID-19. There are travel restrictions in the camp, too. No organization comes to provide anything to us. We mainly need food rations,” Ing Ja, an IDP from Zup Mai Yang village, told KNG.
Another awaiting challenge is the distance from the local school, making it difficult for the 200 children in the camp to attend, including 30 high school students.
“Our children will have travel difficulties. We don’t have motorbikes. We want the respective authorities to help us,” Ing Ja said.
The IDPs have been displaced since April 2018, and then sought refuge in churches in nearby Lambraw Yang village and Namti town.
There is currently only one IDP camp in Namti town, operated by the Kachin Baptist Convention.