Fire Guts Kachin IDP Camp on Chinese Border

By Yen Saning & Nang Seng Nom 2 January 2015

RANGOON — A camp for internally displaced persons in Kachin State suffered a devastating fire on Monday that has gutted at least 100 households, according to local reports.

About 1000 IDPs live in the Sin Kyaing camp, located in Wine Maw Township, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) east of the state capital Myitkyina on the China-Burma border. While there were no casualties from the blaze, which started from an electrical fire, the Kachin Baptist Church says that the camp’s residents are now in dire need of warm clothes, food and accommodation to see through the winter months.

“There is no place for refugees to sleep now,” said Lamang Yaw, a communications officer from the church said of those Sin Kyaing camp residents who lost their homes in the fire. “The neighbors are helping with food… [but] it’s important to build huts for them to live, urgently.”

Doi Be Za, the head of the Kachin Independence Organization’s IDPs and Refugees Relief Committee, told The Irrawaddy that the camp fell outside of his organization’s jurisdiction.

“It’s not at in our area of control. But we are compiling a list on the loss of property lost in the fire. Then, we will continue to do what we need to for the refugees.”

The nearby village of Kambaiti is reportedly under the control of Border Guard Force unit led by Zahkung Ting Ying, a parliamentarian representing a territory previously controlled by the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK). The NDAK’s predecessor organization split from the KIO in 1968 and merged into the Border Guard Force in 2009, two years before the outbreak of renewed hostilities between the KIO and the Burma Army.

Another Kachin IDP camp on the Chinese border suffered a fire in March last year, which claimed the life of a 13-year-old girl after a tarpaulin tent provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees burnt to the ground.