Displaced Myanmar Civilians Denied UN Aid

By The Irrawaddy 23 July 2021

United Nations aid to displaced people from Mindat, a mountainous town in Chin State which saw fighting between junta troops and civilian resistance fighters, is only reaching areas permitted by Myanmar’s regime.

This week UN humanitarian organization the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) delivered humanitarian aid in “emergency response” to Mindat’s growing displaced population. However, the aid had not reached those in need, who fled the town following shootouts into rural Mindat. But villagers told The Irrawaddy this week that the aid had not left Mindat town and they had not received any assistance. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/ceasefire-broken-in-chin-state-as-myanmar-junta-troops-clash-with-civilian-resistance-fighters.html

“The travel authorization granted to UNHCR permitted access to a number of displacement sites within Mindat town,” the UNHCR told The Irrawaddy by email on Friday.

UNHCR convoys carrying non-food items and COVID-19 preventative materials went to Mindat on Monday. The agency said that since February it has been closely following developments in Chin State to assist those displaced.

The UNHCR said it “calls for the continued collaboration of all concerned to facilitate unimpeded humanitarian access in Chin State and across the country, so that no disruption to humanitarian work occurs”.

The agency declined to provide details about how the aid was distributed and how many civilians benefited from the assistance.

The agency said on Monday it plans to distribute tarpaulins, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen equipment, solar lamps and protective equipment for COVID-19 prevention as humanitarian assistance for up to 5,000 people.

Dr. Bu Htang, a member of a displacement camp committee in Tuili village, about 50km from Mindat, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the internally displaced people (IDP) in his village did not receive the UNHCR’s aid. His village hosts some 1,200 people who fled fighting in Mindat town and are unable to return home.

“There is no support. We are sharing whatever donations we have. We heard the UN’s aid only goes to the areas where the military regime’s governing council permits. The aid should be delivered to the IDPs and many of those are in the villages, far from the town,” he said.

Despite the hurdles, the UNHCR said the agency is in regular contact with partners “to explore the best way to reach and respond to the needs of those displaced in other areas of Chin State”.

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