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August 13, 2020

Enforcing rules of law called key to saving lives from preventable disasters

Disaster and death are not the inevitable consequence of greater exposure to hazards. It is possible to stabilize disaster impacts, save lives and protect livelihoods.
Especially, in Hpakant which is notorious for the preventable landslide disasters killing migrant workers regularly. In the jade land, we can tell why the disasters happen and where many of the risks lie and which areas where migrant workers should not search jade stones at risk of their lives. The government ordered the mines in the region to close from July 1 to Sept. 30 because of the risk of landslides during the heavy rains of the monsoon season. However, the disaster occurred on the morning of 2nd July, 2020 after a heavy rain in Hpakant, killing about 150 people. It is clear that all of us can only be safe if we ensure that everyone is kept safe. The ongoing catastrophe in the Hpakant jade-mining region of Kachin State in northern Myanmar produces a grim roll call. 21 November 2015: more than 200 workers buried in their campsite. 25 December 2015: “waste mound” kills 50. 6 January 2016: 20 killed. 25 January 2016: 100 killed. 4 April 2018: 6 killed in landslide. 4 May 2018: at least 17 dead. 14 July, 2018: at least 15 confirmed dead, survivors believe over 100 buried. 24 July 2018: 27 “feared dead.” 12 February 2019: 6 killed in “cliff collapse.”
They are victims of the lure of jadeite – precious jade. To prevent such disasters, the Union Government has been making more efforts for extending the rule of law in Hpakant, considering that the government is obliged to provide safe working conditions to migrant miners. That’s why a task force with 14 members was formed by the Union Government on 4 October, last year and tasked with 14 goals. Six sub-working groups were formed under the task force on the same day. Steps are being taken to ensure the safety of migrant miners. Shortcomings in following of safety regulations by both mining companies and migrant squatters who search jade stones discarded by mining companies pose challenges for local authorities in saving lives from preventable disasters around jade mines in Kachin State. Every person has the right to go to work with the expectation they will safely return home to their families when the day is done. But everyone also needs to play their part in reducing risks by following the rules and guidelines issued by the authorities.

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