The European Union launched phase II of the Durable Peace Programme, committing an additional €12 million to support IDPs and peace building initiatives in conflict affected Kachin and Northern Shan states of Myanmar.
Photo: Oxfam/Dustin Barter An estimated 130,000 civilians are displaced from their homes due to armed conflict in Kachin and Northern Shan States, in northeastern Myanmar. Even with the ongoing peace process, internally displaced persons (IDPs) still cannot return to their homes as fighting continues.
The EU's Durable Peace Programme (DPP) supports conflict-affected communities in Kachin since 2015. DPP informs displaced women and men about their rights and opportunities to become active part of the peace process. The programme also assists the IDPs to generate anincome and resources to live a dignified life and become less dependend on aid from outside. DPP's first phase between 2015 and 2018 reached an estimated 85,000 conflict-affected peoplewas across a dozen townships in Kachin State. “Since the beginning, the Durable Peace Programme set out to contribute to the peace process, reconciliation, rehabilitation and development in Kachin State. The DPP was built on the strong foundation of local experience and assessments of Kachin civil society actors. In our final evaluation for the first phase, DPP beneficiaries cited that an appreciation of the culture of peace has facilitated a change in mindsets and enhanced their understanding of, and respect for, other ethnic groups. Participation in DPP’s reconciliation and dispute resolution activities led to increased trust and confidence in fellow IDPs and improved relationships among ethnic groups in IDP camps," said Ja Nan Lahtaw, one of the first Schuman Awardees for Human Rights and Executive Director of Nyein (Shalom) Foundation, one of DPP's seven consortium members.
EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt now launched phase two of the programme which will have an additional budget of €12 million until 2022 and expand its activities from Kachin to Northern Shan. DPP will continue its support to IDPs in rebuilding their lives and take part in the peace process. Together with civil society organisations, the programme will engage with authorities on all levels to help them better understand and address the needs and priorities of conflict affected communities in Kachin and northern Shan, especially displaced people. In this new phase, the programme will also set a stronger focus on addressing the increasing issue of gender based violence, providing safe spaces and raising awareness. Kachin Chief Minister Dr. Khat Aung stressed the Kachin State government'sfull support for the expanded Durable Peace Programme.
On behalf of the European Union, Ambassador Kristian Schmidt emphasised at the launch of DPP 2: "The people of Kachin and Shan State should not silently wait for others to improve their lives, with humanitarian aid, year after year. For dignity and hope in the future, the European Union firmly believes local communities should be able to support themselves, and have their say on the peace process. The Durable Peace Programme will therefore promote increased awareness among the displaced communities about the peace process and their stake in it."