The undersigned international NGOs operating in Kachin and Northern Shan States in Myanmar are gravely concerned about the ongoing armed conflict and its recent intensification. We are also concerned about threats to the safety of civilians and increasing restrictions on access to those in need.
We are particularly concerned to see that armed conflict is taking place in close proximity to civilian locations, including Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps. We fear that this increasingly volatile security and humanitarian situation will result in new, secondary and even tertiary displacement across Kachin and Northern Shan States as we have already begun to see in the past few weeks with devastating humanitarian impact.
In the absence of a near political solution to the humanitarian crisis, the situation of those displaced communities is particularly alarming given the lack of safe locations for them to return to and increasing restrictions on their ability to access humanitarian aid.
IDPs have resorted to developing negative coping mechanisms, such as severely reducing food intake and taking on dangerous and high risk jobs, leading to migration and employment in unregulated and illegal activities. There have been increased reports of rights abuses outside of IDP camps, including arbitrary arrests and forced recruitment, affecting IDPs attempting to access livelihood opportunities outside camps.
Insufficient emergency response funding and uncertainty about the funding situation for 2017 poses serious threats to the future response capacity of local and international humanitarian agencies in Kachin and Northern Shan States, which are already facing resource limitations in delivery of lifesaving humanitarian relief. Should funding for 2017 decrease, it is questionable whether agencies could meet even current needs.
We, as local and international agencies committed to the principles of humanity, independence and impartiality, urge all actors to support, promote, respect and facilitate the protection of civilians and the guarantee of human rights and humanitarian assistance to all those in need. We request the following:
1) The immediate cessation of armed conflict in Kachin and Northern Shan.
2) All authorities must uphold the rights of conflict-affected populations to safety and the ability to meet basic needs. All parties to the conflict must fulfill their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to protect civilians, civilian locations and civilian assets, and bring an immediate end to all violations of human rights.
3) Removal of all impediments and restrictions, formal or informal, to the movement of humanitarian aid including personnel, goods and services to ensure timely response to humanitarian needs.
4) Provision of adequate humanitarian funding to support people throughout all stages of displacement, including support for livelihood opportunities to allow people to sustain themselves in dignity.
Signatories: Bridging Rural Integrated Development & Grassroots Empowerment (BRIDGE), Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), Kachin Development Group (KDG), Karuna Myanmar Social Solidarity (KMSS), Metta Development Foundation, Nyein Foundation, Oxfam, Plan International, Solidarités International and Trócaire