The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS) said it has been prevented from delivering sacks of rice to ethnic Lisu people living in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kachin State’s Sadone Township.
Speaking to DVB yesterday, Nilar Thein, one of the most prominent leaders of the activist group, said, “On Sunday, we were on our way to visit an IDP camp in Sadone accompanied by Kachin State’s Lisu Ethnic Affairs Minister Ahti Yaw Han and Burman Ethnic Affairs Minister Khin Maung Myit.
“Our truck, which was carrying a hundred sacks of rice, was stopped at the Washawng military outpost,” the former political prisoner and rights activist said. “It was barred from entering and we were unable to distribute the rice to the families in the camp.
“There have been no previous restrictions or bans on rice being delivered in this area. We were given the excuse that the delivery document had not been signed by the minister for border affairs and security. We were allowed to go into the camp but could not take the rice.”
The IDP camp hosts more than 400 Lisu villagers, half of whom are children. They have been sheltering at the site since January when they were compelled to flee their villages due to armed conflict in the area. The camp is reported to be suffering from food shortages.
During Sunday’s visit to the camp, the Lisu ethnic affairs minister pledged to persist in getting rice delivered.
Nilar Thein added: “We are very saddened that this happened at such a difficult time when our ethnic brothers and sisters are in trouble. When we see the difficulties they face every day, we know why they truly want peace. We condemn the action of the military authorities who, rather than sympathising and helping, have caused greater hardship for these people. We simply cannot accept this.”
She said the 100 sacks of rice bags were later transported back to the town of Waing Maw where they were put in storage.
Recently, a convoy carrying social workers and humanitarian aid was similarly blocked en route from Hpakant to Namti in Kachin State and refused entry to a nearby IDP camp.