Inside Kachin’s forgotten conflict

Published on Wednesday 19 July 2017

As of June 2017, about 86,900 people remain affected by conflict in Kachin State, Myanmar, and displaced from their original living area. Every day, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s teams witness the consequences of one of the longest conflicts of the past century, largely forgotten by the international community.

In 2011, after a 17-year ceasefire, a small skirmish between the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) and the ethnic armed group KIA (Kachin Independence Amy) caused a relapse into what has become the most intense conflict in Myanmar. Since 2011, hundreds of people have lost their lives and around 120,000 have been displaced in camps, mainly in Central and Southern Kachin State.

children playing in displaced people camps in kachin

Many children live in camps in Kachin

A long lasting conflict

The long nature of this conflict has gradually led to a disengagement of emergency institutional donors and, consequently, a decline in funding for emergency programmes, while the needs of IDPs persist amid a dire situation. “Unfortunately, the conflict has worsened with an increase of skirmishes since the end of last year. Aid organizations are confronted with increased needs and, in parallel, with decreased emergency donor funds”, said Sokchearta Ith, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s Field Coordinator in Kachin State. “Moreover, the limited access afforded to humanitarian agencies prevents us from providing the required assistance and especially covering basic needs in the event of new population movements. This critical humanitarian situation is emphasized by a lack of respect for international humanitarian law by all stakeholders involved”.

children playing in kachin

As of June 2017, about 86,900 people remain affected by conflict in Kachin State, Myanmar, and displaced from their original living area

Humanitarian access jeopardized

Over the past several months, humanitarian actors have faced enormous difficulties in accessing newly displaced persons, mainly due to difficulties in obtaining travel authorizations from the government and insecure roads. At the beginning of 2017, an additional 7,500 people were displaced, mainly from existing camps. With the increase of humanitarian needs, local and international humanitarian organizations have been limited in their capacity to respond due to a lack of material and financial resources to tackle new needs. Reports about civilians being killed, injured and displaced due to the intensification of military operations and use of heavy artillery in close proximity to IDP camps and populated areas have painted a rather worrying picture.

Operational in Kachin since 2012, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL intervenes to cover the needs of 26,600 conflict-affected people in 16 camps and 11 villages in Southern Kachin. From its base in Bhamo, SI develops water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as food security and livelihoods activities in Bhamo, Momauk, Mansi and Lwegel areas. Moreover, through its Rapid Response Mechanism in partnership with Save the Children International (SCI) and local organisation Kachin Baptist Convention, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is able to respond to the continuous displacements occurring in new areas in Kachin and Northern Shan states.

Pictures copyrights: © Alice Vantournhoudt / SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL

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