Kachin IDP Camps Cut Rations for Men

By Htun Htun 6 April 2017

RANGOON — Food rations have been cut for men aged between 19 and 35 since the end of March at two camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), according to camp organizers.

“We are not giving food rations to men who can work,” Tang Gun, an organizer of Hpun Lum Yang camp, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

The cut is partly because of a shortage of rations and partly to encourage those who can work to stand on their own two feet, he said, but noted that it was just a trial.

About 200 men from Hpun Lum Yang and Woi Chyai camps will be affected.

Men with disabilities or health problems, those with elderly parents to support, and those volunteering in civil society organizations (CSOs) will continue to receive rations, according to Tang Gun.

The IDPs and Refugee Relief Committee under the KIO and a Britain-based NGO currently provide 25 kilograms of rice as well as salt and oil per person for 45 days at IDP camps in KIO-controlled areas, said Tang Gun.

Since January 2017, displaced persons taking shelter at camps in government-controlled areas have moved to camps in areas controlled by the KIO amid continued clashes between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of KIO.

Around 70 households have moved from Maga Yang camp in a government-controlled area to Hpun Lum Yang camp in a KIA-controlled area since January.

According to statistics from the Joint Strategy Team (JST)—a network of CSOs in Kachin and northern Shan states—over 6,000 IDPs were forced to move from one camp to another in January alone because of clashes.

“Reducing rations can create a problem for IDPs, currently, there is a shortage of food for them,” JST secretary Gum Sha Awng told The Irrawaddy. “Both the government and ethnic armed groups are responsible for IDPs,” he added.

He said the Burma Army had blocked humanitarian aid provided by the World Food Program to some IDP camps in government-controlled areas since mid-2016 for fear that the aid would be sent to KIA troops.

He urged donors and authorities to provide cash and food to IDPs who have had to move from one camp to another.

There are over 100,000 IDPs in Kachin State—roughly 50,000 each in both government- and KIO-controlled areas.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.