Myanmar: Humanitarian Bulletin, Issue 1 | February – May 2017 [EN/MY]

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 29 May 2017
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Critical shelter, protection and livelihoods needs continue in northern Rakhine despite improvements in humanitarian access

  • Muslim fishermen face new restrictions in Rakhine

  • Closure of three IDP camps in Rakhine has mixed results

  • Government Minister announces that IDP camps in Rakhine will be closed within five years

  • Intense fighting in parts of Kachin and Shan in the recent months has led to new displacement in a number of areas

Returnees in the northern part of Rakhine face urgent shelter needs

Seven months after the October 2016 attacks on border guard posts in northern Rakhine and the subsequent security operations that led to mass displacement, significant humanitarian needs remain, with persistent concerns over protection, movement restrictions, shelter, food security and livelihoods for thousands of affected people. United Nations officials in Bangladesh estimate that more than 74,000 people, most of whom identify themselves as Rohingya, crossed the border into Bangladesh as a result of the violence that began in October. UNICEF estimates that 57 per cent of those who have newly arrived in Cox’s Bazaar District are children.

Some of those who fled to Bangladesh have since returned to the northern part of Rakhine, but exact numbers are not known as returnees are keeping a low profile to avoid penalties for having illegally crossed the border. In addition to the large number of Muslims who were displaced, a total of 332 Rakhine, Dynet and Mro evacuees continue to be hosted at two locations in Maungdaw Township. In February, the Government announced the end of the security operations and since then most of the 20,000 Muslim people who were internally displaced within northern Rakhine are believed to have returned to their villages or origin or places in the vicinity of their villages of origin.

Many returnees still in makeshift shelters as monsoon season approaches

Returnees face significant shelter needs due to the large number of homes burnt, damaged or dismantled during the security operations. Many are staying in makeshift shelters which are inadequate, especially in light of the upcoming monsoon season. A draft plan has been developed by the authorities to establish 13 “model villages” for 1,152 households whose homes have been destroyed. The authorities have indicated that the establishment of these model villages will enable them to provide better services and infrastructure to the communities. Each household will be provided by the Government with a cash grant for shelter construction. Land for the model villages is already being prepared.

Affected people have stressed to the Government that they would like to return to their original plots and they have raised concerns about the Government’s “model villages” plan. Villagers are concerned about the size of the plots they are being offered as they are smaller than their previous plots. They have expressed concern about the fact that households are all being offered similar sized plots even though some households include extended family members and have a large number of people. Some have said the size and location of the plots would prevent them from being able to continue the same livelihood support activities that they previously engaged in.

Access for humanitarian staff, including international staff, has improved following the introduction of new procedures, but restrictions still apply. It has still not been possible to conduct a comprehensive assessment of humanitarian needs in northern Rakhine.
However, humanitarian organizations present in Maungdaw are currently planning individual sector-specific assessments in nutrition, food security/livelihoods, child protection, education, water/sanitation and health. WFP conducted a food security assessment with Government counterparts and humanitarian partners between 26 March and April 10 in the two affected townships of northern Rakhine. The results are being compiled and will be released soon.

WFP has been continuing distributions under its lean season food/cash assistance programme for 57,000 people and its emergency relief program for 27,000 people. After many people were forced to spend three months without humanitarian assistance last year, there are concerns about malnutrition rates. Under WFP’s Prevention of Moderate Acute Malnutrition programme, 50,000 children under five plus pregnant/lactating mothers were assisted with nutrition rations in April. WFP will continue providing assistance throughout the lean agricultural season until the end of 2017. By the end of April, UNHCR had distributed Non-Food Items to over 33,000 people affected by the recent crisis across 41 village tracts in Maungdaw district. Most of the humanitarian programmes that were being carried out before October 2016 have now resumed. However, humanitarian access is more tightly regulated than before October 2016.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.