Already living a precarious existence in Malaysia, Covid-19 is leaving Kachin refugees without access to food or medical support. Please consider donating to this community who have called for urgent assistance.
Back in 2016 I interviewed Kachin individuals living in Kuala Lumpur as refugees. Many came from rural parts of northern Myanmar and had been displaced by conflict, some multiple times. I was shocked to learn of the difficulties they faced in Malaysia and the general precarity they were forced to endure (https://www.newmandala.org/surviving-without-dream-kachin-refugees-kuala-lumpur/).
Predictably, the pandemic has intensified these challenges. As Mr. James La Seng Tsumhka, chair of the Kachin Refugee Committee, noted in a letter calling for urgent assistance (see below), few Kachin individuals possess formal papers meaning most are unable to work with dire consequences in terms of food and accommodation security. Partly as a result of their refugee experiences, many Kachin people in Malaysia have critical health issues and are also unable to access basic medical treatment. Currently, there are no government or non-government agencies providing support to the Kachin community who, like other Myanmar refugee groups in Malaysia, face widespread discrimination and hostility. Jaw Htu Hkawng and Emily Fishbein have written about the current situation: https://newnaratif.com/journalism/the-fear-is-always-with-me-refugees-in-malaysia-recount-recent-lockdowns-and-raids/share/pybxr/5a022e2f216f49a3ea6f87e4f229e3f6/
How can we help? Let's raise at least £370 to feed 10 families
Mr. James La Seng Tsumhka notes that "In a week, each household needs at least RM 200 (£37) while each individual needs RM 100 (£19). This amount can feed them for a week". I realise many of us may be facing our own financial challenges and so are unable to contribute but if you can contribute even a little it will be hugely appreciated, not only for the immediate relief it will bring but also as an expression of support and solidarity from the international community.
With many thanks for considering this request.
Image: Members of the Kachin Refugee Committee Women's Group making face masks as part of local fundraising efforts.