Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Refugees in Namti to be sent back home

More than 1000 refugees who have been taking shelter with religious organisations in Namti, Mogaung township, Kachin State, will be sent back home on Tuesday, spokesperson from the Peace Talk Creation Group (PCG) told The Myanmar Times.

The refugees fled their homes on August 12 following clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kasont village in Namti that started August 11, according to U Lamai Gunja, the spokesman of the Myinkyina-based PCG.

The villagers have taken shelter at religious organisations in Namti since then, he added.

U Lamai Gunja said PCG met with officials from KIA’s Brigade 2, based in Mogaung on August 20 and negotiated for villagers to return home.

PCG said it would submit a notification letter to the Kachin State government and the Tatmadaw about the plan to send the villagers back to their homes.

The villagers said the Tatmadaw told them that they can return home if they want because the military columns has already withdrawn from their villages.

“The Tatmadaw has told that they would help villagers to return home and also guaranteed for security. The Tatmadaw also told that there are no military columns. We have assumed it to be correct,” U Lamai Gunja said. “We are going to send a notification letter to the state government about it so we hope that the state government will handle the military later.”

“KIA also said they would prevent fights from breaking out in residential areas and not stay near villages. That is why we are preparing for sending villagers back home,” he added.

Displaced villagers have demanded PCG to protect their lives and take responsibility to ensure that they would not be forced to abandon their homes again, according to U Lamai Gunja.

The PCG would present this appeal when it submits a notification letter to the state government, he added.

A total of 60 vehicles would be used to bring the villagers back to their residences.

U Min Thein, head of Kachin State’s Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Department said they will help the PCG in ensuring the orderly return of the refugees to their homes.

“For villagers to return home, the state government and Tatmadaw have negotiated with officials from the other side. We don’t take part in the negotiation. But we will give help in sending the villagers back to their homes as soon as possible,” said U Min Thein.

The Myanmar Times contacted the Kachin State government’s Social Minister to get more details about the planned return of the villagers to their homese, but the minister’s spokesperson replied “the minister can’t answer by phone.”

At present, there are no more fighting in Namti, said U La Rain, an official from a committee for providing aid for refugees.