Kachin State IDPs Told to Obtain Permission for Aid Deliveries

By Lawi Weng 29 September 2016

RANGOON – Authorities in Putao Township, Kachin State, issued an order to an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp saying agencies and groups need permission to deliver aid.

Nang Ram, a camp leader from Lung Tsut IDP camp in Putao, said that the ward administrator came to the camp on Sept. 19 and presented the statement.

“He didn’t explain anything; he just gave the letter and left,” said Nang Ram. “He’s never done that before.” She added that no one has prevented aid being delivered to the camp.

The order statement declared that NGOs, international NGOs, religious groups, and civil society organizations (CSOs) who want to give donations to Lung Tsut IDP camp must first get “permission from the Kachin State government.”

The Irrawaddy asked an NLD-member and lawmaker from Putao, Moe Swe, about the statement. After speaking to the chief minister of Kachin State, Moe Swe said that the government did not issue the order.

However, the chief minister did tell Moe Swe that the government restricts foreign aid groups from traveling to conflict areas, and that international organizations should inform the state government if they want to travel to Putao for the purpose of delivering aid.

Dau Kha of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army, said the Burma Army had accused the KIO of using aid donated by international groups.

“They [Burma Army] view everyone with a different view point from theirs as an enemy. But international aid groups will not devalue their name by giving aid to the KIO,” Dau Kha said.

Dau Kha said his organization would not accept aid from civil society organizations, which, he added, is “only for IDPs.”

Restrictions on aid to IDP camps has occurred in other areas, according to Kachin rights groups. The Burma Army seized medicine from the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) in eastern Kachin State on Aug. 25 this year, they claim.

The medicine, which had a value of 10 million kyats (nearly US$8,000), was donated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and was supposed to be delivered to IDP camps in Pa Kahtawng, Zai Awng and Masat Shadaw, near the border with China. The Burma Army returned the medicine in early September.

“We need to get permission,” said Lama Yaw, communication officer of KBC. “Our aid was seized last month because they said that we did not have permission.”