Thu 30 Jan 2014
Filed under: Ethnic Issues,Human Rights,Inside Burma,News,Refugees
Civilians displaced by fighting in Kachin State told British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire they want to go home when he visited a refugee camp housing more than 1,000 people near Myitkyina in January 29.
Residents of the St Joseph Minor camp for internally displaced people in Wai-maw Township near the State capital also told Mr Swire they longed for permanent peace.
“I want to go home but to be able to do that we need peace,” a woman resident of the camp told Mr Swire when he asked about living.
“We want a situation in which fighting will never occur again,” the woman told Mr Swire.
Another camp resident, Ma Lu Lu, later told Mizzima that hopes of returning home had risen because of a lull in the fighting between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army.
Ma Lu Lu said returning to her village would be difficult because “we have nothing to eat there, but my family wants to go home and plant crops.”
Asked about Mr Swire’s visit, camp in-charge Father Naw Lat said: “He did not give us anything and he promised us nothing.”
Father Naw Lat said Mr Swire was interested in seeing living conditions in the camp.
“When he asked the refugees if they want to go back home, they all replied that they did and that they want peace,” he said.
Mr Swire is reported to be the first British government minister to visit Kachin State since Myanmar became independent from Britain in 1948.
More than 100,000 people are reported to have sought shelter at IDP camps in Kachin State and northern Shan State since fighting between government forces and the KIO erupted in June 2011.