Kachin refugees seek aid as cold weather sets in
Refugees in Kachin State plead for warmer clothing and food as the cold weather sweeps in and assistance from local and international aid organisations dwindles.
WARM clothes and food are urgently needed for Kachin refugees as biting cold weather sweeps the country’s north, especially for the more than 40,000 displaced people in makeshift camps in areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Army, aid workers said.
The living conditions in these camps have worsened since international aid declined, said U Gum Sha Awng, secretary of the humanitarian organisation Joint Strategy Team (JST).
“People are struggling to survive in the camps,” he said.
About 20 camps hold more than 40,000 people scattered across KIA territory, JST said.
JST comprises nine civil-society groups operating in Kachin and northern Shan State. It indirectly helps international organisations to provide aid to refugee camps in KIA territory.
More than 120,000 local people have sought refuge in more than 170 refugee camps throughout Kachin since fighting re-ignited in 2011 between the Tatmadaw (military) and KIA.
A lot of assistance used to be provided to these refugees, but it has slowly declined.
In 2016, the World Food Programme, which gave food and support for displaced people in the area, changed its policy, and some camps in Kachin no longer receive aid, U Gum Sha Awng said.
Kachin civil-society organisations said that, except for the elderly and children, who are still provided aid, people in most of the refugee camps now have no means of support.
Since 2015, each person has received K7000 (US$4.42) per day, he said, and the elderly and those who are ill receive K13,000 per day, but the people in refugee camps in KIA territory haven’t received anything for the past three years.
Males from the age of 19 to 35 don’t receive any food aid, and, as there are fewer jobs, times are really difficult, U Gum Sha Awng said.
Kachin displaced persons take shelter at the Kachin Baptist Convention Church in Tanai town, Kachin State, in June.