This regular update, covering humanitarian developments in conflict-affected areas from 24 April to 24 May, is produced by OCHA Myanmar in collaboration with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group and UNHCR. The next update will be issued towards the end of June 2021.
Around 46,000 people were displaced in the south-eastern part of Myanmar between April and May due to the conflict and insecurity, about 37,000 of them displaced in late May following the clashes in Kayah State.
In Chin State, thousands have been internally displaced following an escalation of hostilities in the town of Mindat since 12 May.
In northern Shan, clashes between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) and among EAOs continue and around 2,800 people were displaced in May. A total of 8,400 people who have fled since January 2021 remain displaced.
In Kachin State, there has been no new displacement during the reporting period, despite the active armed conflict between the MAF and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA); about 8,500 people who fled insecurity since mid-March remain displaced.
No new population displacement has been reported in Rakhine State. Cases of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) are reported in IDP camps in Mrauk-U, Paukaw and Sittwe townships.
Humanitarian response remains severely constrained in all conflict-affected areas due to insecurity, banking disruptions, road blockages and pre-existing access challenges.
Myanmar Humanitarian Fund First Standard Allocation of US$10 million launched on 13 May has been amended with an additional $0.35 million to scale up response in Chin State.
A total of US$40.2 million has been mobilized under the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan, which seeks $276.5 million to address the needs of around 1 million people in conflict-affected areas. This represents less than 15 per cent of the funds required.
85.9K people internally displaced in the South-east due to clashes and insecurity in 2021
15K people internally displaced in northern Shan due to armed clashes in 2021
10K people internally displaced in Kachin State due to armed clashes in 2021
10K people hosted in sites in Chin State and Magway Region due to hostilities in Mindat in May
UPSURGE IN DISPLACEMENT IN THE SOUTH-EAST: Around 46,000 people were displaced in the southeastern part of the country between April and May, according to data obtained by UNHCR from various sources. This includes the displacement of an estimated 37,000 persons across 57 locations in Kayah State where violence had erupted in late May between the MAF and the Karenni Army, the armed wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party, as well as the Karenni People’s Defense Force, an armed group formed by civilian resistance fighters.
There have been additional displacements, mainly in Kayin State due to insecurity and the clashes between the Karen National Liberation Army and the MAF. Around 45,000 people are currently internally displaced in Kayin State. The majority of them are hiding in jungles with some 8,000 sheltering in caves along Salween River at the border with Thailand. A further 3,900 people remain displaced in Mon State and Bago Region since February. This makes 85,900 the total number of people who have been internally displaced in the region due to armed clashes as well as insecurity as of 24 May.
The internal displacement comes in addition to cross-border movement that remains fluid. Around 7,000 people from Kayin State have crossed the border to seek safety in Thailand since late March and some 1,000 remain in temporary areas in Mae Hong Son Province in Thailand as of 23 May, according to UNHCR.
Humanitarian needs include food, shelter and access to hygiene and sanitation facilities. Additionally, there have been reports of cases of water-borne diseases among the displaced population in the jungle as result of extended lack of access to hygiene and sanitation facilities compounded by the early arrival of the rainy season. Local sources warn of a looming food security crisis if people are unable to return to their villages of origin to tend to their crops and livestock.
Humanitarian partners are doing their best to respond to these needs, both within Myanmar and across the border. For example, in Kayah State, partners provided food and basic households items, child protection and health interventions to a small number of IDPs. However, access restrictions due to insecurity, road blockages, remote terrain, landmine contamination and other bureaucratic impediments continue to impede programme delivery across Kayah and elsewhere.
INCREASING HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN CHIN STATE: Thousands of people have been displaced following an escalation of violence between the MAF and the Chinland Defense Forces (CDF) in and around the town of Mindat in Chin State on 12 May. The MAF deployed heavy artillery, military helicopters and snipers to the area, and despite the reported retreat of the CDF the following day, the MAF reportedly continued its attacks, including against civilian areas and infrastructure in the town of Mindat, which is home to about 25,000 people (2014 data).
Over 9,000 IDPs are currently hosted in 16 sites, mainly in churches and monasteries, in and around Mindat and 7 sites in Saw in Magway Region. Thousands more had reportedly fled to nearby forests and mountains in search of safety and protection. There are also reports of civilian casualties, damage to and occupation of civilian infrastructure, incidents of the MAF using civilians as human shields and alleged cases of sexual assault against women and girls. Clashes also occurred between the MAF and the CDF in Loklung Village near the capital city of Hakkha on 18 May. This has led to the displacement of around 1,000 people to neighboring villages, according to local partners.
The displaced population and those who remain in town are in urgent need of food, water, medicine, shelter and protection services, such as gender-based violence and psychological support. Local communities and religious institutions are making efforts to provide humanitarian assistance; however, this is not reaching everyone in need. Access restrictions, including due to road blockages and insecurity, are complicating the efforts to verify the reports of displacement, casualties and other incidents, as well as assess needs and respond. The Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF) is supporting an operational partner in Chin State to scale up response, by topping up with an additional funding an existing humanitarian programme.
MORE PEOPLE DISPLACED IN NORTHERN SHAN: Population movement remains fluid in northern areas of Shan State with new displacements and small-scale returns reported on a regular basis. In Hsipaw Township, around 2,510 people fled from their homes to safe areas due to hostilities between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army and the allied forces of the Ta'ang National Liberation Army and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army on 18 May. Small-scale population movements were also reported in Nawnghkio and Namtu townships and over the course of May, 2,800 people were internally displaced due to various clashes. A total of 15,151 people have been internally displaced in northern Shan since the start of 2021. While almost half of them returned to their places of origin within weeks, some 8,400 people remain displaced in 34 sites in Hsipaw, Kyaukme, Momeik, Namtu, Namhkan and Nawghkio townships. The IDPs are unable to return due to damage to their property and livelihoods as well as insecurity and risks from landmine contamination.
Humanitarian partners organized three missions to the displacement sites and protracted IDP camps over the course of May to assess people’s needs and strengthen response coordination. Despite some assistance provided by host communities and local partners, the needs of families newly displaced remain largely unmet. The IDPs currently require temporary shelter, food, basic household materials, including mosquito nets, blankets, and mats, as well as access to water and sanitation facilities.
NO NEW DISPLACEMENT IN KACHIN DESPITE INSECURITY: There has been no new population displacement in Kachin during the reporting period. Close to 10,000 people have been displaced across Kachin State following the resumption of clashes in mid-March. While many have returned to their places of origin since then, over 8,500 people remain displaced in Bhamo, Hpakant, Injanyang, Momauk, Myitkyina, Sadung, Shwegu and Waingmaw townships. Local communities and operational partners are responding to the needs of newly displaced people; however, access challenges and insecurity are complicating these efforts.
The security situation remains volatile in Kachin State, with regular armed clashes between the MAF and the KIA in several townships and general insecurity across the state. Hostilities were reported across as many as 13 townships; however, clashes were intense in Momauk Township in particular, where fighting around the Ah Law Bum mountain area, currently controlled by the KIA continues unabated, with reports of aerial strikes by the MAF and artillery shelling by both sides. Since March, over 100 armed engagements were reported across Kachin. According to public sources, 11 civilians were killed and 22 others injured between 11 March and 12 May. The details of these incidents could not be verified at the time of reporting due to access challenges.
ACUTE WATERY DIARRHEA IN CENTRAL RAKHINE: AWD cases were reported in IDP camps in MraukU, Pauktaw and Sittwe townships with majority of cases affecting children under five. Based on available information, the cases were reported to be highest during the week of 3 May, with 1,200 cases, and majority reported from six IDP camps. Over 2,000 cases of AWD have so far been reported as of 25 May. The situation has started to stabilize as the number of cases started to go down since 16 May, following robust response by operational partners who are coordination with relevant entities to scale up awareness raising efforts of good hygiene, testing of water quality, chlorination of the boreholes, and cleaning of solid waste and disinfection of latrines. Disease surveillance is ongoing and operational hours of mobile clinics have been extended in certain camps with larger caseloads. Case investigation and laboratory sample collection were also conducted with relevant entities and findings were directly shared to frontline health partners for appropriate clinical management.
NO NEW DIPLACEMENT IN RAKHINE: There has not been any new clashes between the MAF and the AA since November 2020 and no new displacement has been reported. Some small-scale returns among IDPs continue to take place in a number of townships. Close to 82,000 people remain displaced at 147 sites and 27 host communities in 10 townships across Rakhine State. This is in addition to 126,000 IDPs hosted in protracted camps established in 2012.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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