Nearly 300 families displaced by early fighting in Kachin State between the military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) have returned to their homes in Waingmaw Township.
A returnee, who requested anonymity, told KNG that they have been preparing to return to Gara Yang village for two years after having to survive in the displaced camps with little support.
One woman who also requested anonymity commented, “I’ve wanted to return to my home for so long, but was unable to do so for many reasons. Now that I’m finally home, I’m happy.” However, it wasn’t easy to start from scratch again, she explained, when all her livestock was gone. “Sometimes I want to cry.”
On 28 February, 1,400 people from 287 families from 23 camps in Myitkyina, Waingmaw and in areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation made the journey back home.
Another anonymous returnee said everything is gone, including his animals and house. “The most important thing is that we need a house” and they need food, he said, explaining that inflation has made it very expensive to put food on the table. “We’d like to ask the World Food Programme to continue providing food rations and we also need assistance for reconstruction.”
The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has built 157 houses for returnees, leaving many families without a roof over their heads.
Many villagers who lived in government-controlled camps returned after the regime threatened to close them down. Despite this, some have resisted the evictions because they have no home to return to and because they want their children to go to school or access health care in the towns.