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June marks five years of conflict in Kachin state, northern Myanmar, where Trócaire supports humanitarian aid. Da Shi Hka Ing (31) explains how she has lost her home and the life she once knew to the war. Report by Lee Griffin, Trócaire Myanmar.
Left to right: Da Shi Hka Ing, Mali Gum Ring and N Lam Zau Lawt, who lost their homes through conflict in Myanmar
Military and opposition forces have been embroiled in a violent five-year war in Kachin, northern Nyanmar forcing 96,400 people from their homes and making many dependent on humanitarian aid.
Villages have been damaged and destroyed and mines have been planted around homes and farmlands making Kachin an extremely dangerous place to live. There are no signs that the fighting will stop.
Da Shi Hka Ing is a 31 year old mother whose village was burned down by the military because they thought that the villagers were connected to an armed group.
Her family spent a year living in the forest with other families growing rice to survive.
“The children could not attend school and a woman passed away because she had no access to medication,” she recalls.
Eventually they settled in a camp for displaced people near the Kachin capital, Myitkyina, where her whole village now lives.
While life in the camp is difficult, Da Shi Hka Ing says she is happy with its facilities and services.
She is too scared to return to her village, while there are armed groups present and with her village burnt down, homes, clinics and schools would need to be rebuilt. She may never be able to return to her old life.
Trócaire works with a local Church organisation, Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS), to provide humanitarian aid including water, toilet facilities and training in safe hygiene. Hygiene promotion is very important when people have to live in crowded camps.
Life in the camps can be dangerous. In February 2015, every shelter in the camp was destroyed by a fire that spread throughout in 30 minutes. The fire began at about 4am, while most of the camp slept.
The newly-elected democratic government in Myanmar led by Aung San Suu Kyi brings hope that the conflict in Myanmar may finally be resolved. There are many obstacles on the path to peace, but in Kachin, people are depending on it.