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Kachin and northern shan state context and vulnerability review

October 2018

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Kachin State and Northern Shan State (NSS) are in a state of protracted crisis, characterised by ongoing and sporadic conflict, unresolved political grievances and an array of competing interests over resources ranging from logging and minerals to illicit drugs. Over 100,000 people are sheltered in 170 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across the region and violence continues to displace people.  

A Context and Vulnerability Review of Kachin and NSS was undertaken in October 2018 to further guide the HARP-F strategy for Kachin and NSS and to inform future programming. Over 50 interviews were conducted with national and international agencies as well as with affected populations in and around Myitkyina and Lashio. IDP camps and resettlement sites were visited in Waingmaw, Myitkyina and Kutkai and interviews were conducted with IDP from across GCA, NGCA and Northern Shan. This review is structured into six main sections - Context, Conflict and Geography Analysis; Humanitarian and Transition Work; Protection; Opportunities for Return and Resettlement; Livelihoods and Localisation - with key points and recommendations for each.

The review found that in the current context, acute, lifesaving interventions will need to continue for the newly displaced and those in remote or difficult-to-access areas (especially in NGCAs) – led mostly by national actors. In parallel, humanitarian transfers to stable, encamped populations – especially in the form of cash – continue to be necessary and a precondition to an eventual acceptable resolution of the displacement crisis. Furthermore, there is both an opportunity and a need to work on more longer- term and sustainable livelihood programming, including on safe migration.

Funding should increasingly be provided to local organisations – with technical accompaniment, if necessary. In a context where development actors are planning significant investments, coordination among donors and concerted accompaniment could help organisations cope with the additional demands. 

In addition and despite conflict and uncertainty, IDP populations – together with local community organisations – are actively seeking solutions to reverse the hopelessness of prolonged displacement.  If carefully scaled up and adjusted, resettlement could be transformative to the lives of the IDPs – especially considering the alternative of slow deterioration of conditions and dignity within camps. These efforts deserve concerted local and international assistance – across the humanitarian, human rights, development and peacebuilding silos – which, in turn, can bring benefits to host populations and local communities that have also suffered from conflict and neglect.