The Ei Tu Hta IDP Supporting Committee issued a statement on June 25 to urge the government to address the root causes of displacement before closing down internally displaced person (IDP) camps.
The committee’s spokesperson Padoh Mahn Mahn Mahn said concerns have been raised after the Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye talked about the government’s plan to close down IDP camps in four states in Burma during the Workshop on National Strategy for Closure of IDP Camps in Naypyidaw on June 2.
“Rather than closing these IDP camps, the government needs to consider the current situations and find solutions to the current issues and provide assistance. At the same time, it needs to solve the root causes of displacement first,” Padoh Mahn Mahn Mahn told Karen News.
He expressed his concerns on the government’s authority as it has been trying to close the IDP camps without considering the root causes of displacement and explained that the civil war and previous political issues are the root causes of displacement.
Over 100,000 people have been currently displaced in the Karen, Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan states due to military conflicts, tensions, and riots and hundreds of people are still trapped inside the conflict areas. Although the IDPs need assistance for food, health, and child healthcare, the aids have been suspended and banned, according to organizations that have been assisting the IDPs.
The Ei Tu Hta IDP Supporting Committee made a seven-point demand to the government and the Tatmadaw to carry out more practical programs in solving these issues rather than carrying out the programs on closing the IDP camps.
The committee urged the government to immediately halt all plans involving closure of IDP camps in ethnic areas, ensure that all discussions, planning and management of IDP return or resettlement include their full participation and consultation, ensure that all IDPs have access to humanitarian aid in accordance with international humanitarian law and allows for unimpeded access to all humanitarian aid organizations, and recognize and respect local organizations, particularly ethnic organizations, and their agency and role in delivering aid to the IDPs in their respective areas.
The committee also urged the Tatmadaw to immediately cease all military offensives and withdraw troops from ethnic areas, build trust by genuinely engaging with the peace process, ensure that all IDPs have access to humanitarian aid in accordance with international humanitarian law and allow for unimpeded access to all humanitarian aid organizations.
A total of 108 local and border-based civil society organizations have endorsed the Ei Tu Hta IDP Supporting Committee’s statement and suggestion. These civil society organizations have expressed their concerns on the government’s plan to cooperate with international organizations in closing the IDP camps.