As fighting continues between the Burmese army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) separatists, the UN estimates some 75,000 civilians have fled violence. IRIN recently met Zing Htun Htu, 45, a mother of five, at one of the largest camps for displaced persons in Kachin State’s capital, Myitkyina.
“After celebrating Christmas, my husband and three sons - ages 12, 10, and 8 - went back to a farmhouse [used during harvest season] about [one kilometre] from our village of Malanyan, which is in Winemaw Township. Soon after they got to the hut, my husband was arrested by the army as they suspected that my husband was a member of KIA.
“Not knowing when or whether their father would come back, my three sons were stranded on the farm. They couldn’t come back to the village as fighting had broken out in and around the village.
“On the day my husband was arrested, the two armies - government and KIA - were fighting fiercely in our village. With other villagers, my 15-year-old daughter, three-month-old baby and I went into hiding. Fearing that fighting would get worse… we fled the village and arrived at this camp.
“About three months after we arrived at the camp, I heard that dead bodies of five or six men were found around the village. Assuming that my husband would be one of those, I requested pastors at the camp to pray for my departed husband.
“I thought our family life was gone forever. Incredibly, about one month later, I got a phone call from my husband. He was luckily released by the army and heard that we were at this camp. Soon, he joined us.
“But we didn’t know whether our sons were still alive or not. About six months later we had contact with them and they finally came to the camp. They were much thinner when they arrived. They told me that people in the neighborhood of the farm sent them to a border camp [near China] for their safety as they suspected that their father would not come back.
“We’re very happy for being together again. But at the same time we fear so much since we don’t know our destiny if fighting will spread to the capital.
“We don’t know if our belongings are still there at the village house or looted by the army. Even if the war is over now, we don’t know how we can re-start our life and livelihoods. Our farms would be gone by now. We have to start from zero.
“We often face sleepless nights whenever we think of our future. We so wish the war to end.”