Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Open Drug Rehab Center in Myitkyina

By Nan Lwin 17 October 2018

YANGON—Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will make a one-day visit to Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, on Friday to open a drug rehabilitation center, according to the vice speaker of the Kachin State parliament.

Ding Hkang Hpung (also known as Hkang Len) told The Irrawaddy the drug rehabilitation center was established with a donation from the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation. The charity was established in 2012 in memory of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s late mother.

According to local NGOs and religious leaders, drug addiction is a major problem in Kachin State, where more than 70 percent of youth use drugs, according to one estimate. According to the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG), the number of drug abusers increased in Kachin this year. The state also has the country’s highest HIV infection rate, at 28.5 percent.

“The state counselor will also visit Njang Dung IDP [internally displaced persons] camp in Myitkyina during the trip,” Ding Hkang Hpung said.

He said the IDPs were displaced from areas near Myitkyina by fighting between the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which has flared periodically since 2011.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also plans to visit a boarding school on the outskirts of town to meet students displaced from some parts of Kachin State by a series of floods in 2014-16, as well as a monastery in Myitkyina’s Waimaw Township, he said.

The trip will be Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s second to Myitkyina as state counselor. During her first visit last year she discussed the peace process with Kachin State religious leaders and met with local civil society organizations and Kachin IDPs to urge them to participate in the peace process, which her government had recently relaunched as the “21st Century Panglong Conference.”

According to local NGOs, more than 130,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing fighting in Kachin State. In May, more than 6,000 more people were made homeless by a new Tatmadaw offensive against the KIA.

Lawmaker Nhtung Hka Naw Sam, a member of the National League for Democracy’s Central Executive Committee, told The Irrawaddy that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi isn’t scheduled to meet religious leaders to discuss the peace process during this trip, plans for which were drawn up by the state government last week.

Last year the State Counselor’s Office donated 300 million kyats to Kachin IDPs through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.