The government and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) have jointly started building a standard village as part of a resettlement programme for internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by the long-term civil war in Karenni State, according to Khu Plureh, the head of KNPPs Loikaw Liason Office.
The budget for building the village was approved on 31st March 2014, but building could only begin in September.
Khu Plureh said: “It should have been finished in September, but we could not do anything earlier because we had problems with transporting materials, but now we are working on the project.”
At the third union level meeting of the government and KNPP held in November 2013 seven agreements were made, one of which was to implement the village building and resettlement project.
The village will be built on the eastern bank of the Salween River where the Melayu River flows into the Salween in Has Taw Township.
Other projects are being jointly planned between the KNPP and other organisations to provide jobs and long-term livelihoods for IDPs.
As for worries about the security of standard villages Khu Plureh said: “Currently we do not know [about village security]. We cannot give any guarantees if a nationwide ceasefire agreement is not signed.”
A budget has yet to be approved for health and education services in the standard village building project, but the KNPP will discuss funding for those services with the government.
The Border and Ethnic Nationalities Development Department is funding the project and the cost of each house will be five million kyat (approx $5,000 USD) according to Koh Plureh.
He said: “We have already had the village designed and cleared the mines and the land for the houses with a bulldozer.”
Currently the project is 20 percent finished and the rest of the construction will be completed in December. Originally the project was planned to be 50 houses but it has now been reduced to 25 houses, he added.
The current size of the IDP population in all of Burma is unknown, but according to the Karenni Refugee Committee (KnRC) and the Border Constium (TBC), two organisations that assist refugees, there are about 15,000 Karenni refugees living as IDPs on the Burmese side of the Thai-Burma border.
Representatives from nine refugee camps based in Thailand held their biannual meeting from 25th to 26th September. Man Saw, the chairman of the KnRC told the Kantarawaddy Times that there had been no discussions about housing refugees from Thai refugee camps in standard villages. At present the refugees in Thailand have no pans to resettle in Burma yet.
The KNPPP has worked with TBC, the Norway Refugee Council (NRC), the Nippon Foundation and other individual donors to provide support and assistance for IDPs.
Translated by Aung Myat Soe English version written by Mark Inkey for BNI