Fam­i­lies dis­placed by war in Kachin feel the pinch of dwin­dling sup­plies

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYAW KO KO kyawkoko@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han

AS the govern­ment kicks off its ma­jor five-day peace talks to­day, civil­ians dis­placed by fight­ing in Kachin State say they are run­ning out of food and medicine and have been un­able to re­turn to their homes for sev­eral years.

In Kachin and north­ern Shan State, some 100,000 peo­ple re­main dis­placed, ac­cord­ing to re­cent UN fig­ures.

The Pein Myit camp in Man­dalay’s Mo­gok town­ship is one of the many shel­ters strug­gling to pro­vide for dis­placed fam­i­lies.

Fight­ing be­tween the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army and the Tat­madaw has pushed nearly 300 peo­ple from Kachin’s Mo­mauk town­ship to Pein Myit. The tem­po­rary shel­ter for mainly Lisu fam­i­lies is sorely short on sup­plies.

Lee Thar Min, one of the dis­placed women at Pein Myit, says she and her neigh­bours of­ten have to scrounge for food.

“We get food from the camp, but be­cause there are so many peo­ple, I have to ask for food from here and there as I can,” she said. “I ran away in the mid­dle of the fight­ing with no time to take any­thing with me. We need food and medicine.”

“I fled from Lal Sout vil­lage in Mo­mauk and now it’s been nearly two years since I have been in a camp,” she added.

In that time Lee Thar Min has been joined by rel­a­tives and neigh­bours from other vil­lages in Mo­mauk. The en­camp­ment now in­cludes 80 shel­ters hous­ing 300 peo­ple.

“I want the war to be over so I can go home. I left my gar­den and my house. I want my chil­dren to have op­por­tu­ni­ties and a good ed­u­ca­tion,” she said.

Most of the dis­placed chil­dren at Pein Myit are school-aged, but are un­able to at­tend classes be­cause they lack iden­tity cards, U A Cee, sec­re­tary of the Lisu De­vel­op­ment Party, said. Ac­cord­ing to the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (UNOCHA), only 16 per­cent of “emer­gency-af­fected” stu­dents in Kachin and Shan states are able to at­tend school be­yond the pri­mary level classes of­fered at many camps.

But U A Cee said that in the camps that don’t have even vol­un­teer teach­ers, the state schools are not an op­tion.

“Our chil­dren can­not at­tend the govern­ment schools be­cause they will not make iden­tity cards for Lisu, Chi­nese and Gawrakha,” he said. “We want our chil­dren to get the chances they de­serve … We are fac­ing many dif­fi­cul­ties in the Pein Myit refugee camp. Stop­ping the war is very im­por­tant now.”

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