Displaced Ethnic Kachins in Myanmar Need Aid

The approaching winter and the continued fighting between the Myanmar army and the separatist Kachin Independence Army have left more than 25,000 ethnic Kachins with little food and no shelter.

The ethnic Kachins left their homes in northern Myanmar and settled in makeshift camps in the town of Laiza, near the border with China. But as international aid agencies cannot access the area, the refugees are left with little humanitarian support under worsening weather conditions.

“We are at our wit’s end,” Relief Action Network for IDP and Refugee Coordinator 1 La Rip said to AlertNet. “If we don’t get support within the next couple of weeks, there could be serious problems with food and shelter shortages and worsening weather.” The organization is one of the few local aid groups — with little funding — helping the Kachins.

An appeal for $2.4 million has been made for the displaced group in July, but the response has not even reached $45,000.

“Some donors have a policy of not funding cross-border work so we are in a difficult position. Some groups are helping us but they can only fund a few days’ worth of assistance,” Moon Nay Li said. She is the spokeswoman for the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand.

The Kachins, who are mostly farmers, fled their homes with only but a few belongings. They cannot go back home because of the risks involved, and cannot work in China because of the language barrier and lack of necessary documents.

Rip said his organization has contacted the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs a month ago regarding the situation, but has not heard from them yet.

“We told them the difficulties we’re facing and they said they’re currently trying and hope to get an answer soon,” he said. “We haven’t heard anything since.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.