Sometimes, in our work, community members stop just to talk with our colleagues. They share stories, feelings or experiences – seeking distraction or relief from stress.
“I had heard about the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) but had never met anyone working with the organization before,” a teacher in Mindat recently told a member of the ICRC team visiting the area as part of our humanitarian response. “When I did meet them, I felt quite sad because I realized that I am also one of those who have been internally displaced,” he said.
In June this year, the ICRC returned to Mindat in Chin State to provide support to communities displaced by conflict. This was our fifth trip to the area since clashes escalated more than a year ago. We were able to help around 900 people by supplying basic cooking materials such as rice, oil, salt and peas as well as providing hygiene supplies and water storage buckets.
“We really appreciate receiving these items in this [rainy] season, as they can be hard for us to buy,” that same teacher told our colleague.
A man caring for his 90-year-old father talked to the team about the challenges many in the community are facing. “We cannot take sides in this situation; instead, we are fearful of everyone, which makes neutrality essential for us,” he said.
“If we don’t send our kids to school, they’ll grow too old and be unable to complete their education… but we are also reluctant to enroll our kids in school because we never know when the fighting may start again.” Needing to stay and care for his father, the man is unable to go elsewhere in search of work or safety.
In Mindat, many doors and windows remain closed. Some families spend the day working on upland farms and return home in the evening. Questions about how families are planning to access food during the rainy season are often met with silence.
The monsoon season pummels the region with strong rains. These rains can cause landslides, which can damage roads and make travel unsafe. In these months, access to Mindat – high up in the hilly regions of southern Chin – can be a challenge for civilians, businesses and humanitarians alike.
Despite the challenges and though the main market remains closed, more groceries and eateries have emerged compared to our last visit to Mindat in March.
“I am pleased that the team was able to reach Mindat just as the rainy season began, both for the community and for the ICRC,” said Kyaw Myint Tun, who led the ICRC response in Mindat.
“Because of our previous experiences we all know how tough it is for the local people and international relief providers to get to hilly Chin State, like Mindat.”
People in Chin State – from Mindat and beyond – still require urgent humanitarian assistance. Clashes are ongoing and civilians continue to be caught in the crossfire. We plan to return to help meet those humanitarian needs soon.