Photo- K Kaung San' facebook

Myo Thiri Kyaw | DMG
26 October 2020, Sittwe 

The World Food Programme is preparing to lend cellphones free of charge to internally displaced people (IDPs) in eight Arakan State townships so that they can receive monetary donations via Wave Money, a mobile payment service popular in Myanmar. 

Ko Htet Oo Lin, communications and public relations officer for the WFP, said the UN agency would lend phones to 3,000 families initially so that they can receive donor funds through Wave Money, at a time when WFP staff cannot visit the IDP camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Last month, we donated cash to more than 8,500 families and found 3,000 IDPs did not have phones. When they go to draw money, they can find it difficult. So, we will lend one phone for each household. However, they have to return the phones when they return home,” he said. 

The WFP suspended monthly provisioning of food supplies to IDP camps in September and started instead providing K15,000 for each individual. 

U Aye Kyaw, the in-charge at the Sasana Beikman IDP camp in Kyauktaw Township, said sending money directly to each IDP is effective and beneficial for them. 

“Paying like this is good. Last month, the Wave Money staff members came to our camp and made cash payments. It would be better if the phones are lent to those who don’t have them,” he said. 

Mobile phones will be loaned to IDPs in Mrauk-U, Minbya, Kyauktaw, Myebon, Ann, Pauktaw, Ponnagyun and Sittwe townships starting next month, and Arakan State’s remaining townships will also be provided phones sometime thereafter, Ko Htet Oo Lin said. 

Fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army has persisted in Arakan State for nearly two years, and the number of IDPs has surpassed 226,000, according to a Rakhine Ethnics Congress statement on October 1.

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