The Burma Army removed landmines from nearly 100 acres of paddy farms owned by 98 families in Nam San Yang village in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township last week.
The 500 people living in Nam San Yang were previously internally displaced persons (IDPs) for years before returning in January 2019 under the supervision of the Burmese military and government.
In March of this year, they sent a letter to both the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army asking them to negotiate for the removal of landmines from the area as soon as possible.
“Villagers tried to borrow tractors from the ministry of agriculture and irrigation. The minister said that they needed approval of landmine clearance from the area, so villagers reported it to the minister of security and border affairs. The security and border affairs minister reported it to the headquarters of northern military command. After that, 40 soldiers from the northern military command came to remove the landmines in Nam San Yang village,” Hpaula Gam Hpang, who is helping the returned Nam San Yang IDPs, told KNG.
On July 30, the Burma Army’s True News Information Team reported that their soldiers had removed 10 landmines, four grenades, and three mortar shells from 100 acres of farmland in Nam San Yang village as of July 28.
Hpaula Gam Hpang said that villagers have been working on nearly 50 acres of farmland in Nan San Yang, and more than 30 families have been cultivating rotating farmland around the village, despite the risk of landmines in the area.
KNG reported that in February a Nam San Yang villager stepped on a landmine as he set off to go fishing near the community. He had to have one leg amputated as a result of the injuries he sustained.
While the IDP return to Nam San Yang was managed by the government and Burma Army, the Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee has opted not to send IDPs back to 17 selected villages in their resettlement plan, citing an ongoing lack of security.