On October 9th, 2023, at 11:30pm, the Myanmar military launched a deadly attack on the Mung Lai Hkyet IDP camp in Waimaw township, Kachin state. The attack, which took place in Kachin Independence Organisation territory close to the China border, destroyed the camp and the surrounding area, resulting in the deaths of 29 civilians, including 11 children, and leaving 76 camp members badly injured. ‘Skyfall: Myanmar’s Junta Targets IDP Camp Without Warning’ is a collaborative investigation on this incident from Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, ND-Burma and Spring Archive. The piece draws on interviews with survivors, community leaders and on the ground sources to examine the series of events that led to the attack, the event itself and the psycho-social impact on survivors.
“We have heavy trauma from this incident. Previously we were displaced by the fighting and lost everything we owned, so now we start our life again from zero. We faced similar situation again so I’m disappointed and don’t want to live anymore. I can’t find proper word to describe our life. Now we all are stay together difficulties in the temporary shelter.” (Survivor, Mung Lai Hkyet camp)
The authors condemn the attack in no uncertain terms, and the research asserts that the incident at Mung Lai Hkyet constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity. While evidence of crimes and human rights violations by the Myanmar military is ongoing, the survivors of this attack have still to face fresh challenges, as an already displaced population must contend with the destruction of their shelters and possessions, as well as the loss of loved ones.
“We have received some humanitarian assistance, [however] furthermore we need counseling for our mental health; even when we hear phone ring, we are sacred” (Survivor, Mung Lai Hkyet camp)
Urgent and long-term support, operationalised by local CSOs who are the best placed to deliver, must be priortised by humanitarian aid organisations and all ethnic governance institutions. It must also be acknowledged that women and girls suffer disproportionately from conflict, displacement and poverty, and their needs must be particularly considered.
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