Inside Myanmar’s IDP camps

SHAN STATE, Myanmar – In April 2014, conflict in northern Myanmar between government forces and ethnic rebels escalated despite recent attempts to amicably resolve the country’s civil rebellions – having previously signed ceasefires with more than a dozen ethnic armed groups.

Increased violence between the military and two groups — the Kachin and the Palaung – resulted in some 900 civilians fleeing from their homes to seek shelter in a town in northern Shan State called Namkham.

We were able to reach the town not two days after many of the recently displaced took refuge in a makeshift camp in Namkham that once served as a primary school. They spoke of human rights abuses against them perpetrated by both government troops and rebels — including the use of civilians as human shields and porters.

The civilians in these photos are part of a group of about 5,000 Kachin villagers who have since escaped the violence, while some depict Paulaung who are located in another IDP camp just a few miles away. Many of them claim they have not seen their home in years, while some have lived at the camp since it was opened in 2012.

The conflict began in 2011 and has displaced about 100,000 civilians in total.