Myitkyina, Myanmar (GVO) – A group of teenagers behind the Facebook page Rangoon Revealed is organizing a humanitarian visit to the town of Myitkyina in north Myanmar where more than a hundred thousand Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are currently living in makeshift camps.
The proposed trip aims to document the lives of people living in the camps and to provide relief goods to the camp populations. The group hopes to raise $2,000 before the trip.
Thaw Htet, the 17-year-old founder of Rangoon Revealed, provided moreinformation about the campaign on his Indiegogo Page:
When we heard that there were 120,000 people living as refugees in their own country, fighting for mere survival and living on less than 20 cents per day, we had to act.
Rangoon Revealed, inspired by Humans of New York, shares stories of ordinary residents of Yangon (the new name for Rangoon, the former capital of Myanmar).
But this time, the teenagers behind this popular Facebook page are hoping to find out more about the situation of Myanmar residents outside of Yangon.
[…] we aim to document the lives of people living in the camps in the same format as we do it in Rangoon Revealed. This will not only open the lives of the IDPs to the general Burmese public but also internationally as the governments around the world may try to pressure the government to kindle true peace in the region.
As a result of a resumption of fighting in June 2011 between the army of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and government soldiers, large numbers of Kachin people — a collection of ethnic groups who mostly live in the country’s northernly Kachin State — were forced to flee from their homes.
Over the course of the ongoing conflict, around 120,000 people have been displaced and are now living in 172 camps close to the Chinese border in very poor conditions. According to Laphai Seng Raw from the Metta Development Foundation, the support given to IDPs in northern Myanmar has significantly decreased in the past four years.
As the war enters its fourth year, the fatigue factor is settling in with donors, social organizations and host communities who have been looking after them for so long. Currently, the threat of food shortage is very real in IDP camps, as their daily food ration of MMK 400 per person has been reduced to a mere MMK 200 (about US 20 cents).
With diminishing international support, Kachin civic groups are embarking on various campaigns to raise funds for the IDPs. For instance, the Facebook pageConcern, Care and Contribute to the IDPs Now, is appealing for donations.
Meanwhile, Kachin Peace Network is highlighting the alarming situation surrounding the IDPs in the camps:
There are now over 120,000 living on under 40 cents a day, an amount soon to be halved. With continued fighting and only 17% of basic needs being met, the situation of Myanmar’s IDPs is particularly worrying, and they are in desperate need of greater funding and financial support.
Written by Thant Sin for Global Voices Online.