Thirty-eight families from Lai Nawng Hku village (also known as Mang Wel village) have been permanently resettled in Kamaing Township after living in an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp since 2017. The families feel it is still unsafe to return to Lai Nawng Hku village, so they have accepted offers to permanently resettle in a new place. These families have lived in the compounds of the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church in Htoi Sang Yang ward in Kamaing town for nearly seven years.
In 2017, after fighting borke out in Lai Nawng Hku village 38 families fled and took shelter in Church-run IDP camps in Kamaing town. The 12 families who are followers of the Catholic Church took shelter in the Catholic Church compound, and the 26 families who are members of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) took shelter in the Baptist Church compound.
The Catholic Church in Nan Si Inn village has built houses for 12 of the Lai Nawng Hku families. Reverend Seng Awng, who is helping with the resettlement of the IDPs, said that the 12 families will be able to move into their new houses in Nan Si Inn village on 2 May. Nan Si Inn village is in Kathang Yang village-tract, which is located about three miles from Kamaing town.
“At the moment, they are staying in buildings on the Church compound. They could not live on the Church compound forever so we made a plan to resettle these families in Nan Si Inn village after negotiation with the relevant officials for IDP settlement,” Rev. Seng Awng told KNG.
The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has already obtained 19 acres of land in Kawng Ra village in Kamaing Township to build new houses for the other 26 Lai Nawng Hku families.
“After negotiation with relevant officials, KBC has received 19 acres of land to build houses for the IDPs. We started clearing the land of trees and bushes in January, and as of March the land is now ready to build on. We have already measured out the plots for the houses. We still need to construct the streets and houses. I think they will be able to resettle there by next year,” Rev. Seng Awng told KNG.
Rev. Seng Awng said that they still need to secure financial assistance to construct the streets and build all of the new houses for the IDPs.
People with knowledge of the situation said that they received the land plots after successful negotiation with relevant officials, and that the Garuna Foundation has already built some of the houses for the IDPs.
U Gum Jet, head of the Catholic IDP camp, said that the Lai Nawng Hku families do not feel safe to return to their original village because the armed conflict has not been resolved.
“We fled the fighting and have taken shelter in this IDP camp. We have lived in this IDP camp for so long and we want to find somewhere permanent to live. But we are unable to return to our original village because there is no stability there. We want to live in our own family homes freely, not in an IDP camp. We also need to consider the education of our children. Therefore, we have decided to resettle to a new place,” U Gum Jet told KNG.
U Gum Jet said that he demanded donor organizations to continue to provide humanitarian aid and electricity for them after they resettle in a new place.
Intense battles occurred between the Burma army and the Kachin Independence Army near Lai Nawng Hku village in Kamaing Township in 2017. At that time, villagers from Lai Nawng Hku fled to take shelter in the Baptist Church and Catholic Church in Htoi Sang Yang ward in Kamaing town. They have been living there as IDPs ever since.
Lai Nawng Hku village is a five-hour boat trip from Kamaing town. The village is located in the Kachin Independence Army’s battalion-44 territory.