Changes in context
In 2015, there continued to be significant humanitarian needs in Myanmar with additional displacements and vulnerability resulting from renewed conflicts in Kachin and Shan states, and devastating floods that affected 12 of the country’s 14 states/ regions. In Rakhine and Kachin/Shan states, many of the IDPs living in camps or camplike situations remain dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs largely due to continued restrictions on movements and limited access to livelihood opportunities. The protracted displacement also has an adverse effect on the host communities, straining already scarce resources. The situation was further compounded by the countrywide floods that affected over nine million people across the country.
In Kachin and Shan states, approximately 100,000 people remain displaced as a result of the armed conflict that started in 2011. Of these, more than half of the displaced population live in areas beyond Government control, where access remains largely restricted. The prolonged nature of displacement also requires sustained delivery of assistance, as temporary shelters, other essential facilities such as health care and sanitation services require renovation or replacement. Despite efforts to reach a nationwide ceasefire, armed clashes continued to affect civilian populations leading to the temporary displacement of about 17,000 people (excluding Kokang) in 2015 (most of these newly displaced people returned to their places of origin within weeks). There are concerns that negative coping mechanisms such as risky migration, early marriage and child labour have been increasing in this protracted situation. In the Kokang Self-Administered Zone, the conflict displaced approximately 80,000 people, with most of these people crossing the border into China. Around 4,000 remained displaced at the end of 2015.
In Rakhine State, about 140,000 people remain displaced following outbreaks of violence in 2012.
Discriminatory laws, policies and practices, which place severe restrictions on movement and access to basic services, cause particular hardship and lead to a high level of dependency on humanitarian assistance. Housing and other facilities in camps were constructed as a temporary measure and many require maintenance or repairs. Continued provision of food, education and nutrition support, as well as protection services remains needed in the camps. According to UNHCR, approximately 94,000 refugees and migrants are estimated to have departed by sea from Rakhine State and the border areas of Bangladesh since 2014. Due to restrictions on movement and their inability to access citizenship, these people rely on smuggling networks for their departures and are vulnerable to human trafficking. Rakhine was also one of the worst-hit parts of Myanmar during the floods in 2015 that affected all communities with a particular impact on women and girls.
The floods resulted in significant damage to crops and people’s livelihoods. In March 2015, the Rakhine State Government assisted some 10,000 IDPs to build their own individual houses through a process of owner-driven construction. Bilateral donations then supported similar programs. By the end of 2015 approximately 25,000 individuals benefited through these IDP owner-driven housing schemes and approximately 30 of the original camps (or camp-like settings) are closed, a key step to ending displacement. The number of camps (or camp-like settings) decreased by 40 per cent with approximately 40 sites (in number) remaining. These returnees were assisted to build their own individual houses through a process of owner-driven construction. Efforts are being made by humanitarian and development actors to ensure that they are also assisted to restore their livelihoods and have adequate access to essential services, so that continued humanitarian aid to these people can be phased out.
In addition to continued humanitarian needs associated with conflict and communal violence,
Myanmar was hit by devastating floods and landslides in 2015. According to Government figures, 38,000 houses were totally destroyed and 315,000 were heavily damaged. Over 1.4 million acres (567,000 hectares) of farmland were inundated, with more than 841,000 acres (341,000 hectares) destroyed. Damage to crops and arable land poses a serious risk of long-term food insecurity in many parts of the country and it has heightened the vulnerability of people who were already food insecure. The long-term socio-economic effects of this disaster will continue to be felt by communities, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking, gender-based violence and child labour. Of the 1.7 million people who were temporarily displaced by floods and landslides in 2015, all except 9,000 had returned to their villages of origin by the end of December 2015. Although many of the humanitarian activities related to floods/landslides were completed by the end of 2015, some people (particularly those still displaced in temporary sites and those affected by food insecurity) will continue to need some humanitarian support (including support to return or permanently settle elsewhere) in 2016.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.