The village the 100-plus people are returning to is still located in a conflict area, in which landmines have been found.
The Kachin State government arranged for the return of 17 internally displaced families (IDPs) to Nam San Yang village in Waingmaw Township on Wednesday.
In total, 105 people reported to the state administration and the Burma Army’s northern military command last November that they wanted to go back home. Government staff in Waingmaw and the state border affairs minister managed their return this week.
Deputy commander of the military’s Light Infantry Division 101 Col Soe Kyaw Htet said that there was a concern about landmines around Nam San Yang.
“Our soldiers already cleared landmines around the village two weeks ago. We discovered five landmines in the first round of landmine clearance and one landmine in the second round. We already removed those landmines,” he told KNG.
However, KNG learned that the Burma Army only managed to remove mines around 17 houses in the village area—these houses are located on the east side of the vehicle road.
Kachin State border affairs minister Col Nay Lin Tun, as well as authorities from the relief and resettlement department, the township, and health workers and immigration officers came to see the IDPs who were to return home.
Hpaula Gam Hpang, who assisted the IDPs in their move, said that they had been told the government would rebuild their houses, but it was unclear when this would happen.
Villagers from Nam San Yang fled from clashes in 2011. There were about 2,000 residences in the community before they left. The 17 families returning this week were the first batch of people to go back to the village. Some 30 more families are likely to go home at the end of February.
“It’s difficult to do this at the state level. The issue [of IDP return] was reported to the Union level,” Hpaula Gam Hpang said.
The area where Nam San Yang is located, on the Myitkyina-Bhamo road near the Kachin Independence Organization headquarters in Laiza, continues to be a conflict zone.
Despite this, the IDPs who returned to the village this week said they did so because of a fear that they would lose their land if they did not go back, particularly under the recently amended Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law.
“I left my village seven years ago. I’m so happy to be returning home. When I was in the IDP camp, I had to live in a cramped space…I hope that my village will become joyful again,” said Jan Dashi Tawm, who has been staying in Maina IDP camp.