Inter-communal conflict erupted on 20 March following an argument in a shop selling gold items in the Eastern Market of Meikhtila, around 150 km south of Mandalay in central Myanmar. Reports indicate a quarrel between a Buddhist customer and a Muslim shop owner escalated, leading to clashes that quickly spread to many parts of the town. In Meikhtila, a total of 12,846 people are estimated to have been displaced, including 9,563 now living in five temporary locations (i.e. three schools, one educational college and a football stadium) with a further 3,283 in local monasteries. According to a recent UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) situational report, up to 40 people have been killed and 61 injured in the fighting with an estimated total of 2,245 houses destroyed.
The Myanmar Red Cross Society has responded immediately to those affected by the clashes, in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to provide search and rescue, first aid and referral services. Red Cross ambulances have also been used to transfer more serious cases of injury to local healthcare facilities. Local volunteers are participating in support of the inter-agency assessment team to ascertain needs and are working closely with local authorities.