Parliament Pushes for Identity Cards to be Issued to IDPs

By Kyaw Myo 10 May 2019

NAYPYITAW—The government is currently implementing a special scheme to provide national registration cards to those living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps around the country, according to Union Minister of Labor, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe.

He said the Union and state/region governments are working together on the scheme and “almost all of the people in IDPs camps in Myitkyina (Kachin State) have been provided with [national registration cards] and we will continue issuing them.”

U Thein Swe’s comments came on Wednesday in response to Lower House lawmaker Daw Phyu Phyu Thin’s question about what the government is doing to help issue identity cards to those displaced by war.

Since fighting between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) resumed in June 2011, more than 100,000 Kachin have been displaced and are still taking shelter along the Myanmar-China border in Kachin State, according to the IDP relief group Kachin Humanitarian Concerns Committee (KHCC).

“As people in IDP camps in [minority] ethnic areas do not have identification, they suffer many problems, including losing employment opportunities as a consequence,” said Daw Phyu Phyu Thin who is lawmaker of Yangon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt constituency.

She said though there are one-stop service systems for issuing ID cards, as well as instructions available from the ministerial department, the reality is IDPs still face difficulties.

Minister U Thein Swe said government leaders regularly instruct the departments to help ease public troubles by prioritizing certain programs. When there are problems with the ID card process, he encourages people to raise the issue with the ministry. He also said the government would take action against civil servants who don’t help or try to delay the process.

“We have to take time to scrutinize the family lines of the mix-blood. However, we are doing that step-by-step to avoid delays,” said the minister.

Kachin State lawmakers have been asked to help IDPs get identity cards which confirm their citizenship as without the cards, they face trouble with movement and schooling.

Ja Seng Hkawn Maran, a Kachin State lawmaker from Injingyan Township said getting an ID card is difficult for those who don’t speak Burmese. Others have difficulty because their names differ to what is on their household registration documents. She added this is often due to officials writing the incorrect spellings of the names of those from ethnic groups on the official documents.

Daw Phyu Phyu Thin also said that having a lengthy and complicated process gives rise to corruption which is undermining the rule of law in the country. Having citizens without IDs makes it difficult to know accurate demographic information for health or voting processes.

She pointed out that the respective departments’ methods of storing public data need to be updated to improve privacy and prevent the risk of loss or damage.

U Thein Swe said the ministry plans to replace citizenship cards with a digitalized system operated with smart cards, a plan which has been in the works for six years nowHe said unique ID numbers would be given and citizens’ biographic and biometric data and fingerprints would be recorded.

The ministry needs around US$104 million to implement electronic-ID (e-ID) population registry and $286 million for provision of smart ID cards. For that, the minister added, they would seek international support and work as joint cooperation with the national budget.

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