Kachin refugees seek aid as cold weather sets in

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - NOVEM­BER 30, 2018 CHAN THAR chan­[email protected]­times.com

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.

Photo: Kaung Htet

Kachin dis­placed per­sons take shel­ter at the Kachin Bap­tist Con­ven­tion Church in Tanai town, Kachin State, in June.

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