Residents of five villages affected by the conflict in Kachin State have returned home, not because it’s safe there, but because they’ve little to eat in the internally displaced person (IDP) camps from which they fled four months ago.
“If we didn’t return home, we’d soon be struggling for food. We used to be farmers and we want to go back to work in our rice fields,” says one IDP, explaining that they’re also afraid of catching the virus in the overcrowded camps in the towns of Momauk and Bhamo.
At Momauk Township, 1,750 families have returned to their villages at the foot of the strategic Alaw Bum (mountain). In April, fierce fighting broke out between Burma Army (BA) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) after the Kachin armed organisation seized the mountain from the military.
On July 6, fifty families returned to Num Lang village. Later, the remaining families returned to Myothit, Konlaw, Min Kyaung and Si Het.
“Some of the IDPs asked for permission to go home. They struggled to eat after the camp was placed under lockdown and no one could leave to work,” said an official in charge of the KBC camp (Kachin Baptist Convention) camp in Momauk. He said there are no more private donors to support the IDPs. All the senior citizens have remained in the camp.
The BA sent more troops to recapture Alaw Bum after the villagers returned to their homes.