Although displacement figures have remained steady in recent weeks—some 206,000 people are displaced within Myanmar since 1 February—continued armed conflict and unrest across the country have meant that the needs of the internally displaced are increasing. Their needs and the challenges of addressing them have been further exacerbated by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar, which has added to existing restrictions on humanitarian actors’ access to internally displaced persons (IDPs). With Myanmar reporting record numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the last two weeks, either the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) or ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) have imposed movement restrictions in areas of displacement.
There have not been significant refugee movements from Myanmar to neighboring countries in the past month, but UNHCR and other humanitarian actors continue advocacy efforts to ensure any new refugee arrivals would have access to protection measures and assistance. Thai authorities continue to regularly arrest Myanmar nationals attempting to enter Thailand irregularly though Tak and Kanchanaburi provinces, without systematic identification of whether such individuals are seeking or in need of international protection. Local communities in India, meanwhile, are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their support of Myanmar refugees who have now been in Mizoram and Manipur for months.