Hpare, with around 800 residents, is one of the most secluded IDP camps in the world, IDP’s in this area receive little to no aid other than a small rice ration from the KIO. These small camps began opening in 2011 after the resumption of fighting.
The area is totally off limits to foreigners, even the KIA have to illegally travel across into China to access camps like Hpare.
Residents mostly survive off plain rice as the land isn’t fertile enough to farm and due to it’s close proximity to China those brave enough to head to the river to fish or scavenge for firewood face a serious risk of being arrested by the Chinese military who tightly patrol this stretch of the border. There’s little to no sanitation or healthcare in the camp, children catching phenomena in the winter is all too common, particularly as their clothes are often well worn and even collecting firewood can be difficult in the craggily hills.
Despite having fled their home villages, safety from the fighting is still not guaranteed in Hpare. As the Myanmar national army increasingly tries to narrow the small corridor of KIA held territory along the Chinese border Hpare becomes the frontline. In 2013 the camp was attacked and residents were forced to flee, they returned to find their homes riddled with bullets and shrapnel.
The vast majority of the camp is made up of women and children, the men have left to find work in China or elsewhere in Myanmar, some have joined the KIA.
The overwhelming majority of Kachins are devout Christians, during a KIA visit over Christmas spirits were high, soldiers donned Santa hats and brought essential supplies for the IDP’s. One resident said “They really are Santas for us, as safety is the best Christmas gift.”