Photographer Hkun Li follows villagers fleeing fighting on the frontline as they pour into the Kachin Independence Army safe hold of Je Yang IDP camp. Kachin State, March 2015.
Je Yang camp, located just five kilometres from the frontline inside KIA territory, was firmly established as the primary IDP camp in 2011 after the outbreak of fighting between the KIA and Burmese government forces. The camp was planned well in advance by the KIO as tensions mounted after the elections of 2010. In the first week of fighting thousands arrived seeking refuge and the camps population has since grown to around 10,000.
Je Yang boasts a daily market, a hospital, schools, churches, running water and electricity in some areas and even has its own system of governance. The camp is densely populated and the KIA say they make efforts to avoid using the camp for military action so as to maintain its neutrality to protect civilians from shelling by the Burmese national troops down the road.
Four years after fighting resumed villagers are still arriving in Je Yang, often because of shelling hitting their village. Despite this being one of the better maintained camps there is still poverty. No stone structures exist, most dwellings are made of plastic tarps and bamboo which in the cold Kachin winters can pose a serious health risk.
A communal farm on the outskirts of the camp provides inhabitants with work and basic food. However, it’s far from the village life many left. Those who go back to their villages to harvest face the risk of land mines planted in their farmland and orchards.