An artillery attack in Myanmar has completely destroyed the community of Munglai Hkyet, in Woi Chyai, one of the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps we support in Kachin State.
At least 29 people, including 11 children and a two-month old baby were killed, with many more injured. We are deeply saddened that two young children from our preschool centre in Munglai Hkyet were among the victims.
The remote mountain camps in Kachin State on the China border are home to thousands of displaced families, who have fled civil conflict and violence in Myanmar. An artillery attack on Woi Chyai camp, populated entirely by civilians, took place just before midnight on the 9th October.
We support 15 preschool centres in this region, where over 400 children attend, including one in Munglai Hkyet, which was demolished in Monday night’s attack.
You can see what is left of the preschool building in the video below...
Whilst the timing of the attack meant the building was empty, we are devastated that two of the children who attended the centre were killed nearby in their homes.
In total, 29 people were killed, including 11 children and a newborn baby and 133 households were destroyed.
With 300 families residing in this remote camp near Laiza, there were also 56 people injured, 44 of whom have been hospitalised.
Fortify Rights have reported on the attack with testimonies from community members. They are calling for the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation in the country to the International Criminal Court, stating the attack on Munglai Hkyet constitutes a severe violation of international humanitarian law.
We will be working closely with our partners to support the community here and ensure they are looked after as they deal with the aftermath of the attack and the loss of so many people.
Our partners are currently coordinating emergency supplies, including food and clothing, along with psychosocial support. We will support the rebuilding of the preschool centre so that the children can return to their much-needed dedicated space to play and learn, and recover from the trauma they have experienced with care from their teachers.
If you'd like to support the community of Munglai Hkyet and our work in Kachin State, Myanmar, you can donate here.
OUR WORK IN KACHIN STATE
Children on the Edge have been supporting the provision of Early Childhood Education in the remote displacement camps in the mountains of Kachin State, Myanmar for over 10 years. The area is an active warzone, controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), one of several ethnic minority groups who have been fighting for autonomy for decades.
The Munglai Hkyet preschool centre was constructed with Children on the Edge funding in 2017 when the Woi Chyai Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp expanded due to renewed fighting as the military junta were attempting to clear more civilian areas in Kachin.
The Woi Chyai camp is only a few hundred metres from the Chinese border, where it was thought to be relatively safe due to its close proximity to China. There were two preschool centres here, one thankfully remains intact.
THE FORGOTTEN CONFLICT
Myanmar has been embroiled in a wider civil war since a military coup in February 2021 overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The military is accused of using airstrikes to counter increased armed struggle against its rule across the country.
Many of the preschool centres we support in Kachin State - home to thousands of displaced families - have built air raid bunkers outside in the event of this kind of atrocity.
Despite many communities being displaced by bombing over the years, this is the first time one of the centres has been directly hit. In fact, the BBC describes the incident as one of the deadliest attacks in the 63 year-long conflict in Kachin.
The United Nations in Myanmar has made a statement expressing how deeply concerned they are about these reports, saying "IDP camps are places of refuge, and civilians, no matter where they are, should never be a target."
Children on the Edge are in contact with our partners in Kachin State and will be working closely with them to support those affected as best we can.