In 2015, in Myanmar, about 235,000 persons are estimated to be affected by conflict and displaced from their original living area for more than three years. These affected communities mostly reside in two different parts of the country, Kachin and Rakhine States, where SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL intervenes. Our teams met with affected people from these two States.
© Vincent Trémeau
Being present in Myanmar since 2008, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL intervenes in these two conflict areas to answer the needs of conflict-affected persons by developing programs focusing on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Food Security and Livelihoods. Even being located within the same country, the roots of conflicts, state of camps’ infrastructures, IDP’s living conditions and fears are very dissimilar between the Kachin and the Rakhine States.
“We cannot move from this place and answer the needs of our family”
© Vincent Trémeau
In Rakhine State, on the South-West coast of the country, following two outbursts of inter-communal tensions in June and October 2012, 140,000 persons were displaced and still live in camps to this day. “I and my family live here, in a camp from Sittwe rural area for more than three years now. We used to live close to Sittwe University for the last thirty years. My house is about twenty minutes from this camp by motorcycle, but I am not allowed to go back there. We came in this camp by ourselves, by walking, and I could not carry anything from my house”, says Daw Saw May Khin*, who defines herself as a Rohingya.
In Rakhine State, about 415,000 persons are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance following the impacts of the crises, which continue to challenge the access to resources and livelihoods opportunities in the second poorest State of the Union of Myanmar. “We now have access to water, to latrines, and drainage systems in the camp which helps us and improves the conditions of the situation here, but I can’t say that I feel happy living here. We are often sick but none of us is allowed to go to the hospital to receive medical care. We also have no opportunities in terms of livelihoods”, adds Daw Saw May Khin, who still hopes to go back home and provide a good education to his children.
“I do not dare going back, there are still soldiers and landmines around the village area.”
In Kachin State, Northern Myanmar, after four years of conflict, about 100,000 persons still live in camps. “I came to this camp with my family on a motorbike when there was fighting around my village. I never came back since then”, explains Daw Yi Ma Sar. “Before troubles, we were farmers, working in paddy fields and corn plantations in the village, and used to have income from selling our harvests”.
Today, stuck in Lesu camp, located in the mountainous area at the border of China, Daw Yi Ma Sar survives as she can with her family. “It is acceptable to stay in this camp, but our main problem is that we do not have any work opportunities. I cannot provide my children with good education since we don’t have any income to pay for their school”.
The continuity of fighting threatens people’s returns and general security, in particular with the significant presence of landmines in villages of origin of conflict-affected persons. “I want to come back to my village, but still don’t know when I will return. I do not dare going back, there are still soldiers and landmines around the village area”.
* Her name was changed for her to remain anonymous
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Projects in Rakhine and Kachin States are supported by ECHO, OFDA, DFID, UNOCHA, UNICEF