Changes in context:
In Kachin and Shan states, fighting between the government army and ethnic armed groups has escalated during the last quarter of 2016, resulting in civilian casualties, additional displacement and evacuation of hundreds of already displaced people from camps close to ongoing hostilities. It is estimated that over 4,000 people were newly displaced or re-displaced in various locations in Kachin State in December. This number has since increased into the new year. In the northern part of Shan State, intense fighting since 20 November between the Myanmar military and a coalition of ethnic armed groups temporarily displaced thousands of people to neighbouring towns and villages, or across the border into China. Numbers are difficult to verify due to access constraints and the temporary nature of displacement in this area. Approximately 6,000 people were estimated to be newly displaced or re-displaced in Shan at the end of December. Approximately 15,000 people who were thought to have fled to China, had mostly returned by the end of the quarter.
In addition to those who were newly displaced in the last two months of 2016, close to 100,000 people remained displaced in 188 camps/sites across Kachin and Shan states.
While humanitarian assistance has been regularly delivered to displaced people in all accessible locations, there has been a significant deterioration in access for international humanitarian organizations in 2016, especially to areas of active conflict in northern Shan State, as well as in nongovernment areas of Kachin State, where the UN and INGOs have not been able to deliver relief supplies to more than 40,000 displaced people since May 2016. This has led to increased pressure on national humanitarian and community-based organizations to deliver assistance, while they also started experiencing greater restrictions and oversight of their operations. In 2016, the Government also issued an instruction requiring displaced in areas beyond Government control to travel to designated distribution points in Government-controlled areas in order to collect any necessary relief supplies. Limited access continues to undermine the quantity, quality and sustainability of assistance provided to displaced people, further exhausting their coping mechanisms after five years of displacement.
In Rakhine State, some 120,000 people remain displaced in 36 camps or camp-like settings in eight townships following inter-communal violence in 2012. The protracted nature of their displacement has led to increased pressure on families as they suffer from overcrowded conditions and a lack of privacy in camps/shelters, limited access to livelihoods and essential services (including formal education and health care), and increased anxiety and hopelessness for the future. This continues to cause increased vulnerability and a high level of dependency on humanitarian assistance, and leads to an increase in the incidence and severity of various forms of gender-based violence towards women and children.
Adolescents are an under-served population with limited access to youth services, leading to negative coping mechanisms, child marriage, child labour and risky migration.
A series of attacks on Border Guard Police posts on 9 October 2016 which killed nine police personnel, as well as subsequent security operations have triggered a new humanitarian crisis in the northern part of Rakhine State.
While figures were not available at the end of the quarter, it has since been estimated that at least 93,000 people were forced out of their homes to either other parts of northern Rakhine (24,000 people) or across the border into Bangladesh (69,000 people). Hundreds of houses and buildings were burned, many people were killed and allegations of serious and wisespread human rights violations have been reported. A lack of acces has prevented the UN from investigating these reports within Myanmar.
Prior to 9 October, the UN and other humanitarian organizations had been supporting more than 150,000 people with regular food and nutrition assistance in northern Rakhine. Access restrictions following the attacks saw humanitarian services suspended and many of these people missed out on their seasonal food assistance, school feeding and regular nutrition support for three months. This included more than 3,000 children who were previously being treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition. Even before the current crisis, malnutrition rates in Buthedaung and Maungdaw townships were above WHO emergency thresholds and the suspension of normal services for several months is likely to have had a significant impact.
Since the end of 2016, the Government has allowed an incremental resumption of some services however, the operating environment remains challenging and heavily restricted. International humanitarian workers are still unable to leave the main centres to assist affected people.
Myanmar’s vulnerability to extreme weather was visible again in 2016. Strong winds, heavy rains and hail storms in April affected around 40 townships across Chin, Kachin, Mandalay, Rakhine, Sagaing and Shan. From February to June 2016, Myanmar also experienced the effects of El Niño. Water shortages were compounded by damage to many ponds during the 2015 floods, leading to an overall reduction in available pond water.
Myanmar experienced heavy monsoon flooding again in 11 states and regions in June and July 2016. Over half a million people were temporarily displaced and 133,000 were assessed to be in need of livelihoods support. In the floodaffected areas, immediate needs were covered by the Government, the Myanmar Red Cross Society, local organizations and private donors with support from international organizations, including a grant of US$3.6 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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