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Doi Ling and her son. ©UNHCR/M.Savary

Doi Ling’s Story, Myanmar

Doi Ling*, 31, is a mother of five. She has been living in a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) for over two years but she can recall the day she had to leave her home as if it was yesterday. Her account of the conditions in which the family had to leave is vivid and brings back painful memories. While recalling those moments, tears fill her otherwise clear and sparkling eyes.

“When we heard gunshots, we knew the military were close and we had no time. I grabbed my youngest son and told the other children to follow me. I had no time to think about what to pack, so I didn’t bring much. I just filled a bag with the first things that I could grab. I didn’t pack many clothes for the kids.”

Doi Ling’s story is similar to many other residents of the IDP camp. “We fled our villages by bicycle, motorcycle or car. Some of us even had no choice but to leave on foot. As we heard the gunshots we escaped, carrying a couple of sets of clothes in our bags…” recalls another woman. “What we are wearing is what we brought from home. When we left we took some things with us, but not so many items, as we didn’t think it would take so long before we could return to our villages,” concludes Doi Ling, the bittersweet smile on her face conveying both nostalgia for the past and hopes for the future.

The armed conflict in Kachin State restarted in June 2011, putting an end to a 17-year-long ceasefire that was agreed between the Government and the Kachin Independent Organisation (KIO). As of February 2014, there were over 100,000 internally displaced people in Kachin State, scattered in over 140 camps and in host communities.

(*Name changed for protection reasons.)