Southeast Myanmar is composed of Kayin and Mon States and Tanintharyi Region, bordering with Thailand to the east and south, Bago Region and the Andaman Sea to the west and Shan State to the north. With a population of approximately 6.6 million, this area is inhabited by Mon, Bamar, Kayin, Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Pa-O, Shan, Salone and Malay ethnic groups.
Since the country’s independence, the discord between the Government and ethnic groups for federalism instigated the armed conflicts between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups including New Mon State Party (NMSP), Karen National Union (KNU) and Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA). The clashes with KNU and NMSP, the dominant armed groups of Southeast, culminated in decades of instability and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
Regardless of a relatively low level of armed conflict, Tanintharyi region has sustained decades of displacement connected to military practices, land confiscation, arbitrary taxation and commercial investment projects. As of 2013, approximately 6,000 refugees from Tanintharyi were in Thailand and 71,650 individuals were estimated to be internally displaced.
According to UNHCR, 110,000 refugees including two-thirds orginated from Kayin State has remained in Thailand in 2015.
The Border Consortium comprising ten international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs) from eight countries, the main provider of food, shelter and other forms of support to refugees from Myanmar in western Thailand and to IDPs in the Southeast, estimated 400,000 IDPs in the Southeast.
Although the conflicts have been declined, destruction or confiscation of agricultural land and crops as a military tactic in the past has resulted in food insecurity. Poor infrastructures, restriction on access to farmlands and markets in non-/ government controlled area are also attributed to food insecurity. Moreover, flooding and droughts combined with unequitable agricultural potential across the Southeast have detrimental effects on food security in terms of unstable commodity prices, inflation and availability of food. In recent years, livelihoods have been advanced with rubber and palm oil plantation, extractive industries as well as business innovations such as Dawei deep seaport in Tanintharyi Region. This however has led to land grabbing and deforestation which has impact on agricultural productivity and food security as subsistence farming being major income source for local populations. The land issues are also considered as a major impediment to return for refugees and IDPs.