People in Kachin state shared the desire for peace but the process seems to be derailed by deep mistrust, US Ambassador Derek Mitchell concluded from his three-day visit to the state.
In a statement by the US Embassy in Myanmar, during the visit where he met over 150 people, the ambassador heard two fundamental points consistently in all conversation with Kachin representatives: a universal desire for peace; and a deep reservoir of mistrust toward central authority more than three years. The breach of the 1994 ceasefire has led to an increased military presence in the state, particularly in close proximity to civilian areas.
The ambassador underscored the US’s deep concern about the increase in tension in Hpakant Township. Actions that further risk the lives and well-being of the Kachin people will only increase suffering, deepen mistrust, and undermine confidence in the peace process.
“Only through dialogue can differences be overcome, the violence cease, care and protection be given to IDPs and civilians, and the groundwork for genuine and lasting peace, stability and development be forged in Kachin state, and the country as a whole,” he said.
During October 25-27, he met with more than 150 members of Kachin society, including religious leaders, local humanitarian workers, cultural historians, students, NGO leaders, political party representatives, peace process actors and government officials including Chief Minister Lajon Ngan Seng. It was his third visit to the state, following the first two in December 2012 and October 2013.
Accompanied by his wife, the ambassador began the trip by visiting Ja Maing Kaung and Tal Kone IDP camps, where they talked to camp residents about their situation. The conditions experienced in these camps are a small indication of the continued suffering of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and citizens elsewhere in the state.
While IDPs expressed a profound desire to return home, they cautioned that such returns should occur only through proper mechanisms that ensure their safety, security, and access to basic services. Indeed, any resettlement must be voluntary, transparent, dignified safe and sustainable in consultation with all affected stakeholders to conform to international standards.
The US recently provided US$500,000 the NGO Metta Development Foundation to assist more than 24,000 beneficiaries in the state through IDP camp shelter construction or repair, water system improvements, hygiene promotion campaigns, and agricultural skills training on soil fertility management and seed selection.
Source: The Nation