Location of operation: BURMA/MYANMAR
Amount of Decision: EUR 200,000
Decision reference number: ECHO/MMR/BUD/2006/01000
1 - Rationale, needs and target population:
1.1. - Rationale:
During 1991-1992, an estimated 250,000 Myanmar Muslim residents of Northern Rakhine State in Burma/Myanmar fled to Bangladesh, representing the largest population movement from Burma/Myanmar in recent years, whereas about 80,000 Muslims stayed in Northern Rakhine State. The refugees were sheltered and assisted in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh.
In 1994, following the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Burma/Myanmar and UNHCR to facilitate the repatriation and reintegration of these Myanmar residents to Northern Rakhine State, the refugees started to return to Burma/Myanmar. By the end of August 2005 a cumulative total of 236,495 persons had returned to Northern Rakhine State in Burma/Myanmar with UNHCR assistance, representing 94% of those who had fled. Since then, the numbers have not changed since no further refugees in camps in Bangladesh have opted for repatriation.
This Muslim population is ethnically distinct from the Rakhine population and faces a wide range of discriminatory practices and serious protection concerns such as harsh application of forced labour and compulsory donations, which jeopardise their selfreliance. The Decision will aim at addressing the protection needs of this minority in Northern Rakhine State, and therefore is in line with DG ECHO's annual strategy which puts a special emphasis on forgotten crises(1).
(1) Burma/Myanmar is one of the forgotten crises identified by DG ECHO in the strategies for 2006 and 2007.