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Citing Flooding and Security Concerns, Kachin IDPs Demand New Resettlement Site

Bawk Mai of Tarlawgyi IDP

Kachin internally displaced persons (IDPs) have objected to a government plan to resettle them to a village which they say is affected by severe annual flooding and remains politically insecure.

The Burmese government recently announced a China-funded resettlement plan that would start in September. It involved building houses for 191 families in three villages, including 59 in Tarlawgyi, located in Myitkyina Township.

“Most of the Kachin people’s living area in Tarlawgyi village is flooded. The area floods every year,” Mashi Htu, a former Tarlawgyi resident who now lives in an IDP camp, told KNG. “Sometimes our houses were completely submerged. That’s why we do not want to return to our old place in Tarlawgyi village. We want a new resettlement place, where are no floods and where we can work.”

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement already announced their plan to return communities to the villages of Tarlawgyi, Da Bart, and Nam San Yang through cooperation with the Kachin State government. The project was kickstarted with a grant of 4 million yuan from China (US$577,000).

Kachin IDPs have also voiced concerns about the lack of peace guarantees in the region, if they return home.

Tarlawgyi is home to the military-backed Tarlawgyi People’s Militia Force, which is active in the area. Additionally, a new ceasefire has not been signed between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burma Army since the previous agreement broke down in 2011, which led to mass displacement when fighting resumed.

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