Simple Training, Critical Impact
Author: Dustin Barter, MEAL and Communications Adviser, Durable Peace Programme, Oxfam in Myanmar
It’s 2011. Civil war between the Myanmar Armed Forces and the Kachin Independence Army has resumed following a 17-year ceasefire. Will it reach your doorstep? If so, when? For some, it’s a matter of days, for others, it’s years. Forced to flee, now living in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), your attention shifts to meeting daily needs. Years are passing by and yearning to return home grows stronger everyday. Even just a quick visit to see if you still have a home would ease the tension. Yet, movement restricted, even that is a struggle. Your home is decaying or decayed, your savings gone, but what about your rights now and in the future?
The concept of Durable Solutions is a cornerstone of displaced people’s rights, namely that displaced people can live in safety to rebuild their lives, either via voluntary resettlement, return or integration in the host community. Prior to displacement, awareness of durable solutions is often minimal or non-existent; why would you need to know? Such is the reality for over 100,000 IDPs in Kachin State, northern Myanmar; a critical reason Oxfam’s partner Metta is delivering durable solutions’ training through Oxfam’s Durable Peace Programme. A basic concept, a short training, a critical impact. Displaced for years, Roi Tsun elaborates:
“We learnt about human rights, safety and security, return and resettlement plans, discrimination, and dignified and safe returns. After learning about dignified returns, we know that we are not ready to return. The Government pushes us, but we refuse because there are landmines and other threats. We have to see real progress on the ground before we return… Recently, there was a land mine explosion near my village and there’s still active fighting.”
“It was (also) good to learn about discrimination. When we first arrived, non-IDPs looked down on us and blamed the situation on us... Now, we have discussions with them and it’s ok. The training helped reconciliation – everyone knows that IDPs have rights and need support.”
These trainings, delivered by Metta for tens of thousands of IDPs throughout Kachin are critical for IDPs to better understand and achieve their rights. This understanding lays foundations for the realisation of durable solutions. Amid increasing concerns about what is happening to her homeland and previous inability to access it, the training came at an opportune time, as Roi Tsun explains following a recent visit to her homeland:
“Before the training, we were very fearful to deal with the Government and outsiders, but now we know not to fear.”
The 3.5 year Durable Peace Programme is funded through a seven million Euro European Union grant, managed by Oxfam and implemented by a consortium of KBC, KMSS, Metta, Nyein, SwissAid and Trócaire, and 18 civil society organisations.