IDPs Flee Camp During Ongoing Clashes in Kachin

By Nang Lwin Hnin Pwint 24 January 2018

YANGON — Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled from their camp in Kachin State’s Sumprabum after artillery shells from clashes between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar Army fell near the camp.

About 1,000 IDPs have fled from Ndup Yang Camp after clashes continued for about five days near the camp, said Father Vincent Shawng Lawn of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Sumprabum Catholic Church.

Ndup Yang Camp is located more than 22 miles from Sumprabum in an area controlled by the KIA.

“Their camp is the on the bank of the Malikha River, and Tatmadaw [Myanmar Army] troops are deployed on the opposite bank. They can see each other. As the Tatmadaw fired artillery shells, they fell near their camp. So, they fled out of fear,” he said.

A total of 260 households consisting of 949 people were taking shelter at the camp, and all of them have fled since Sunday following the clashes, he said, adding that their whereabouts are still unknown.

IDPs phoned him when they started to flee and said that they needed shelter and food. But he has since then lost contact with them as they are out of the reach of the mobile network, he said.

“I can do nothing, except inform humanitarian groups about it. I can’t reach the IDPs and they have not yet phoned me again,” said Father Vincent Shawng Lawn.

“We heard that clashes have been going on for about a week,” said a woman from Sumprabum who asked not to be named.

There have been sporadic clashes since 2015 in the surrounding areas and Tatmadaw troops allow vehicles to get in and out of the town only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., she said.

The Irrawaddy was not able to contact the Northern Command of the Myanmar Army or the KIA to ask about the military situation in Sumprabum.

Ndup Yang Camp was established in 2015 to shelter villagers of Mali Yang who fled the clashes between the Myanmar Army and the KIA near their village.

Kachin civil society organizations have since then provided food for them through the World Food Program.

Renewed clashes between the Myanmar Army and the KIA in June 2011 forced more than 100,000 local residents from their homes to camps.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.