OCHA Update - Humanitarian situation in the northern part of Rakhine State, Myanmar - 13 December 2016

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 13 Dec 2016

The United Nations estimates that about 30,000 people have been newly displaced in the northern part of Maungdaw Township in Rakhine State as a result of the armed attacks on Border Guard Police posts on 9 October 2016 and subsequent security operations. In addition to those displaced, large segments of the population in the north of Rakhine State have also been impacted by the recent events and new movement restrictions.

UN staff joined a Government-led mission to Maungdaw Township on 9-10 December to get an initial overview of the situation and participated in a limited distribution of aid to a number of villages. The sites visited during the mission were chosen by the Government and included both Muslim and ethnic Rakhine villages. During the mission, the Rakhine State Government provided some food and non-food items. With a limited duration, geographic scope and participation, the mission was a welcome step but it was not a comprehensive needs assessment and does not represent a return to the regular, sustained humanitarian access required for the delivery of life-saving assistance to all communities in Rakhine State.

The majority of the 30,000 displaced people are Muslims, most of whom call themselves Rohingya. Many ethnic Rakhine people and other groups have also left their homes as a result of the current security situation. For example, approximately 250 ethnic Rakhine and Mro evacuees are still being hosted in two locations in Maungdaw Township.

According to Government reports, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement has provided the Rakhine State Government with 140 million MMK (approx 107,000 USD) to fund the delivery of food assistance in the affected area. The Union Ministry of Border Affairs has also provided the State Government with 7.5 million MMK (approx 5,500 USD) for the provision of food.

In recent weeks there have been increasing reports of displaced people crossing the border into Bangladesh. According to latest reports coming from the UN in Bangladesh, it is estimated that close to 27,000 Muslim people have arrived in Bangladesh since 1 November.

Most of the pre-existing humanitarian activities in the northern part of Rakhine State remain suspended as a result of movement restrictions put in place after 9 October 2016. It has also not been possible for the United Nations and humanitarian partners to independently verify the number of affected people, or to assess and meet their needs.

There is evidence that hundreds of houses and other buildings in many villages have been burned and reported allegations of serious human rights violations have continued to emerge, particularly from the northern part of Maungdaw Township. However, United Nations officials in Myanmar have not been able to independently verify these allegations. On 1 December 2016, the President of Myanmar established an Investigation Commission to look into the situation that led to the violent attacks and the events that followed.

In the last few weeks, the authorities have allowed the UN and international NGOs to resume some limited pre-existing humanitarian services. However these have so far reached only a fraction of those people already in need before 9 October. Out of more than 150,000 people who were receiving food, cash and nutrition assistance prior to 9 October, about 20,000 people have received assistance since current crisis began and 130,000 have not been reached.

There are escalating concerns about the health implications of the suspension of services and movement restrictions for people in the northern part of Rakhine State. Most people living outside the main centres have not been able to access primary healthcare services or emergency referrals for two months. This includes 7,600 pregnant women who have not been able to access any medical care and more than 10,800 people who were receiving nutrition treatment. Humanitarian organizations have noted the grave risks posed to children who already suffer from high levels of deprivation and malnutrition. Approximately 3,400 children in northern part of Rakhine State were being treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition prior to 9 October and are at serious risk due to the disruption to their assistance.

For further information, please contact:

Pierre Peron, Public Information and Advocacy Officer, OCHA Myanmar,
Email: peronp@un.org, Tel. (+95) 9 250 198 997

Danielle Parry, Reports and Public Information Officer, OCHA Myanmar,
Email: parryd@un.org, Tel. (+95) 9 797 007 816

For more information, please visit http://www.unocha.org/myanmar.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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