|An internally displaced persons camp known as Border Post 8, where approximately 2,000 displaced people fled in November 2011 when the Myanmar army attacked their villages and razed homes. At an elevation of 2,300 meters, residents endure low temperatures in the winter time. Photo: © 2011 Ryan Roco/Partners Relief & Development|
At least one Kachin child has died and many people are seriously ill as heavy snow and dropping temperatures worsen conditions for Kachin refugees living in camps near Kachin State’s northern border with China.
The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has refused to accept Kachin State Red Cross's offer to provide household appliances for more than 1000 Kachin refugees living in KIO controlled areas.
The Kachin State Red Cross made the offer to the KIO through the Peace Coordination Group (PCG) but were turned down, according to PCG member Lamai Gum Ja.
The Red Cross has already got permission from the President’s Office and the Kachin State government, but KIO said it will not accept the offer.
“We plan to give household appliances to more than 1300 families. But the KIO refuse to accept the offer. So, we cannot go there. We cannot do anything,” Gea Nit, Spokesman of the Kachin State Red Cross, told Mizzima.
The KIO turned down the offer because in accordance with its central committee policy, they cannot accept aid from the government until they establish stable peace with the government, according to Gae Nit.
The Kachin State Red Cross is a branch of Myanmar Red Cross and therefore, the KIO refused the offer. If donors from Denmark and Singapore can make the donations directly without routing it through the government the KIO might accept the offer, said Gae Nit.
The household appliances were donated by the Denmark Red Cross and the Singapore Red Cross, but their representatives could not come to Myanmar. Therefore, the Kachin State Red Cross and Myanmar Red Cross planned to travel to the area to distribute the household appliances.
The Denmark and Singapore Red Cross have already donated relief material for refugees in Myitkyina, Waimaw and Bhamo townships. This time they planned to provide relief for war refugees in Laiza, Kachin State.
Similarly, in December 2011, the KIO had refused to accept aid donated by the Kachin State Rescue and Resettlement Committee and relief material such as rice-bags and jackets donated by MP Thein Zaw.
When Mizzima inquired Dau Hka, a member of a KIO 'work group’ about plans to hold peace talks between KIO and the Union Peace Making Committee, he responded that he did not have information about when the meeting would be held.
“With regard to the proposed meeting with the government, we will have information only after ‘central’ informs us. The meeting will be held, but I still do not know the date. I talked to the members of MPC about three days ago,” he said.
On May 30, the government and the KIO agreed to further dialogue, but peace talks have not been held yet.
The United Nations says its Kachin Response Plan is being revised to cover humanitarian requirements and to reflect changes in the situation. The new plan is expected any day now and will extend to the end of 2013, according to a statement by UNOCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
The previous plan, which expired in February 2013, called for US$35.8 million for over 85,000 people, of which so far $32 million has been pledged.
As of the end of March, the number of registered IDPs in Kachin and in northern Shan states reached over 83,000, including some 47,000 in areas under Kachin Independence Army (KIA) control. UNOCHA said that this number, however, does not include the entire IDP caseload in northern Shan State, nor IDPs living with host families.
Ceasefire talks are scheduled within the coming weeks between the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), and a government delegation. Despite the ongoing attempts at dialogue, continued hostilities have been reported in many areas.
Concerns have also been raised by the UN about a lack of access to certain IDP camps. On April 9, Aye Win, a UN spokesperson in Yangon, told Mizzima that they were still waiting to get Myanmar government permission to cross the Chinese border with food and humanitarian supplies destined for Pat-Ka-Htaung refugee camp.
As of April 18, Aye Win was unable to confirm whether the supplies had been permitted to reach the refugees, and said that additional supplies for rainy season, including tarpaulins, blankets and mosquito nets, were included in the cargo.
“Many of the IDPs have now been displaced for a prolonged period of time, some for over 20 months, triggering renewed and additional needs for provision of basic services and protection,” said the most recent UNOCHA report. “Partners report that the most urgent needs in displaced communities before the rainy season include improved shelter and WASH facilities [water and sanitation] and NFIs [non-food items].
“In March the dry season began with reports of water sources running dry in some areas, and in many camps a limited number of latrines and poor hygiene practices which pose health risks to the displaced communities. Furthermore, limited livelihoods opportunities cause further protection concerns, with IDPs increasingly engaging in high-risk employment, including cultivation of land located in high-risk areas,” the report said.
In March, the World Food Programme (WFP) undertook an assessment of needs and assistance at 17 WFP-assisted camps in seven townships in Kachin State—Bhamo, Mansi, Moegaung, Momauk, Moenyin, Myitkyina, and Waingmaw. According to UNOCHA, preliminary analysis shows that the households in the assessed camps have an adequate diet, and no hunger was reported.
“What is important is that all areas within Kachin be accessed and assessed for a more targeted approach,” said the UN’s Aye Win on Friday, April 19. “Once again, with the rains approaching, we are facing a situation where the IDPs are again faced with the ravages of weather. Hopefully things would improve so that they could return to their places of origin and they can resume their lives and livelihoods.”
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