Displaced and Dispossessed: Conflict-affected communities and their land of origin in Kachin State, Myanmar

The old house of IDP in Kachin in grass bush

People displaced by conflict in Kachin State want to return in safety to their land of origin, yet much of their land is being appropriated by a range of actors, with littleaccountability. Legal or administrative procedures are being used in a way that undermines the rights of those displaced by conflict and ignores the exceptional circumstances of displacement. Forced and arbitrary restrictions on movement reduce accountability and transparency further and exacerbate fears about the land that has been left behind, increasing tensions.

Losing their land of origin is a pressing issue for people displaced by conflict, and one that requires urgent action. Even when conditions are eventually met for those displaced to safely and voluntarily return to their land of origin, their inability to reclaim their land from third parties is likely to undermine peace, reconciliation and development efforts.

All stakeholders can play a role in resolving the lack of clarity over land rights for displaced people by taking both immediate and longer-term action to recognize, protect and promote secure rights to land of origin and to ensure that equitable remedy is available in cases where land has been appropriated by external actors without the knowledge or consent of displaced individuals.

The Durable Peace Programme (DPP) is a consortium of seven international and local organizations that have been supporting peace, reconciliation, rehabilitation and development in Kachin State since 2015. Ensuring that the voices of all people feed into the peace process is a central component of the programme. Listening to the voices of those displaced by conflict, it is clear that they overwhelmingly want to return to their land, and that the barriers to return are directly linked to the failures of the peace process in Kachin State.