IOM, in partnership with local civil society, the Government of Myanmar and international actors, strives to improve the living conditions of, and support durable solutions for, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan and the South-East of Myanmar, while addressing the drivers of irregular migration and displacement by building resilient communities and strengthening preparedness and response systems.
Myanmar continues to experience humanitarian needs driven by armed conflict, intercommunal violence and vulnerability to natural disasters. Since 2011, the conflicts have led to the internal displacement of more than 244,000 persons. The escalating conflict in Rakhine State has added to the complexity of issues impacting Myanmar, where almost one-third of the country is affected by the conflict. The Rakhine crisis alone has led to more than 800,000 people fleeing into Bangladesh, where they are now residing in refugee camps. In addition, the ongoing open conflict in Rakhine has led to an increase in militarization and high levels of displacement. Notably, in Kachin and Shan States in the north-eastern part of the country, numerous outbreaks of violence have occurred in 2018 and 2019, involving fighting between the Myanmar Armed Forces and Ethnic Armed Organizations. This has caused regularized cyclical temporary displacement of thousands of people annually, causing significant humanitarian needs that are expected to persist among all affected communities throughout 2020.
The low development indicators and the complex humanitarian situation in Rakhine contribute significantly to the vulnerability of local communities and thus, as seen during times of crisis, to the prevalence of dangerous migration patterns, poor regard for human rights and cyclical vulnerability to natural disasters. These factors have resulted in strong drivers for migration across all affected communities and have contributed to the growth of intercommunal tensions and xenophobia.
Among the groups most vulnerable to the risks associated with natural disasters are casual labourers, fishermen, small farmers, widows and women, and persons with disabilities. Many people lose their income-generating assets and are forced to borrow money at high-interest rates from predatory lenders, or migrate out of Rakhine State, leaving behind women and children to cope with further risks including displacement in an unfamiliar location, human trafficking, related exploitation, and gender-based violence (GBV) in general.
IOM's engagements on durable solutions will seek to end displacement situations through the provision of immediate and longer-term support, in-line with relevant frameworks on displacement and durable solutions. With the adoption of the National Strategy on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Closure of IDP Camps and initiatives undertaken by the government and the military in 2019 for the return of IDPs in Kachin state, support to the realization of solutions to displacement in line with international principles will remain a key priority in 2020. With active armed conflict ongoing in Rakhine, the situation does not appear conducive to large-scale solutions. However, potential small-scale solutions in various areas will likely be possible.