Tag Archives: IDPs

Inside Myanmar’s ongoing conflict

Maran Ji suffered a miscarriage while fleeing fighting in Myanmar. She now has shelter and support, but can't return home. Photo by Made Ferguson/Trocaire.

Maran Ji suffered a miscarriage while fleeing fighting in Myanmar. She now has shelter and support, but can’t return home. Both photos by Made Ferguson/Trocaire.

By Maurice McQuillan, northern Myanmar

We have all seen the press coverage about Myanmar moving down the road towards democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest and has been elected to the national assembly, while US President Obama recently visited the country.

Behind the headlines, the slow process of democratisation continues.

However, not so well known is the fact that ethnic conflict continues unabated in Myanmar’s more remote border regions. People in the Kachin State, in the north of Myanmar along the Chinese border, are caught in the crossfire of an ongoing conflict.

A ceasefire agreement that had been in effect for 17 years was broken on 9 June 2011, leading to a state of war between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the army of the Government of Myanmar.

Over 85,000 civilians have lost their homes and livelihoods and are now scattered across the region in makeshift jungle dwellings and ad-hoc camps.

In this dangerous situation, Trócaire (Caritas Ireland) is helping to provide food, shelter and basic services to 24,000 people in some of the most remote areas of this region.

Myanmar3editedBut writing from Myitkina, where I am monitoring the work in the camps for the displaced, I know that this is about more than political wrangling, military struggle and statistics on the numbers of civilians displaced.

It is about ordinary men women and children.

On 7 December I travelled out from Myikyina to St Paul’s camp, about 25 miles from the Chinese border. In the camp I met a young woman called Maran Ji and she told me her story.

Maran Ji was heavily pregnant when the fighting reached her remote village. The village was at the centre of a battle for a key bridge. It was night and the village was being raked by small arms fire and the bridge was destroyed by mortars.

Maran Ji had to take her chances and flee on foot. She had to swim the river to get away, but after the trauma, exertion and stress she suffered a miscarriage on the far bank. She then trekked on foot all the way to St Paul’s camp.

It is now over six months since she fled her village. She has not been able to go back. She is doing well physically but the mental scars remain. With the help of Trócaire and our partners, she now has a roof over her head, she is healthy and she is safe. That is something.

Myanmar is moving forward towards democratisation. You will read much of this in the coming weeks, months and years. But spare a thought for Maran Ji in St Paul’s camp 25 miles from the Chinese border. 2013 will not be an easy year for her.

Maurice McQuillan is Trócaire’s Emergency Manager. This article was originally published on the Trócaire blog.

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Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Myanmar

Thousands flee as horror returns to Congo

Delphine escaped with her four children from Mushaki to a relief camp in Gomaas renewed violences sweeps though eastern Congo. Photo by Taylor Kakala/Caritas Goma

“They come haggard, exhausted and desperate,” said Taylor Kakala, communications officer for Caritas Goma. “These men, women and children fled in panic, leaving with nothing.”

They’re coming from the Masisi region in North Kivu, a troubled part of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to the safer towns of Sake and Goma. They’ve fled under machine gun fire, forced to run as rockets and mortars fell on their homes.

“We were caught between automatic gunfire and heavy weapons of the government and the rebel fighters. We had to stay low to the ground in order to reach safety,” said Delphine, who escaped with her four children from Mushaki. They walked for 10 days and 40 km to reach Goma.

Jerome is a community leader in the Mugunga relief camp. He said they had to take flight without warning. “The fighting began suddenly,” he said. “People were working in the fields. Children were at school. Some were at home.” He says the journey on the Sake road was perilous. Two children were killed in a traffic accident. Three women gave birth during the exodus. One gave birth to still-born twins.

Civilians are the victims of renewed fighting between the government troops and rebels that began late April. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Conflicts and Disasters, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Emergencies, Emergencies in Congo, Peacebuilding