Military Council’s Minister of Border Affairs, Lieutenant General Tun Tun Naung has told refugees from the war in Myitkyina, that he does not even want to hear the term IDP (Internally Displaced People) anymore, and will therefore take immediate actions to close the relief camps.
These words came from the lips of General Tun Tun Naung, when the Ministers of the Military Council visited the Zee Lon IDP camp in Myitkyina on December 7th, according to an un-named resident of the camp.
One of the Zee Lon IDP camp residents related to KNG that the Border Affairs Minister claimed ,” Plans would be started to close the camp soon.”
He remarked “The presence of IDPs due to the war in the country has been criticized internationally. Therefore he wants the IDPs to say that they are not fleeing because of the war, but because of various other reasons. He said that the term IDP is so bitter for him, that he doesn’t want to hear it at all.”.
There were more than 10 members of the Kachin State Ministry of Social Welfare and Resettlement, who accompanied General Tun Tun Naung to the IDP camp.
IDPs are facing pressures to consider the three options proposed by the Military Council, in the aftermath of the closure of the camps. Those options are to return to their homes, to move and settle in Ngwe Pyaw village which will be arranged by the Military Council, or to move forward with their own plans.
Since about 3 months ago, the Military Council has been putting pressure on the closure of the IDP camps in northern Shan state and Kachin state, by all possible means. Some have decided to return home due to such pressures, but most refugees have resisted and stayed in the camps.
An IDP from Le Kone Maliyan refugee camp commented “They are forced to concoct a narrative that the areas have become peaceful again, and that IDPs can safely return home. They won’t show mercy to anyone. A single order can enforce the closure of a camp. They start to say that they don’t even want to hear the term IDP. Therefore we will have to think and prepare in advance. But there is no preparation nor safety guarantee in our home villages, so it will be very difficult to go back and resettle”.
Refugees criticized that forcing the IDPs to return to their homes when fighting is still raging across Kachin state, as a violation of human rights. In the current situation, fighting continues between the Junta forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Momauk and Hpakant townships, and military with the conflict getting worse. The alternative options are also bleak.
“They (the military) clearly said that they have no plans to build houses for IDPs. If the IDPs go to live in Ngwe Pyaw, a resettlement village, they can get houses there. They also said that they will make a fair arrangement for those who will buy houses and lands under their own plan. But they did not say in detail what the financial deal would be.They said that they cannot say at this time”, a refugee sheltering in a relief camp in Kachin state told KNG.
Anyone who agrees to the Military Council’s plan to close the camp and accepts the financial support will be required to sign a pledge that they are no longer IDPs, he added.
It means that people who accepted the allowance offered, which may be small or large, will have to sign the agreement that they are no longer IDPs, when the time comes to close the camps”, he said.