This regular update, covering humanitarian developments from January 1st to 31st, is prepared by OCHA Myanmar in collaboration with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group and UNHCR. The next humanitarian update will be released in March 2022.
The security and humanitarian situation across Myanmar continued to deteriorate in January, with heightened conflicts in several states and regions, particularly in north-west and south-east Myanmar, resulting in more deaths, destruction of civilian property and increasing internal and cross-border displacement.
As of January 31, an estimated 441,500 people were internally displaced across Myanmar due to clashes and insecurity since February 1, 2021. This is in addition to the 370,400 people living in protracted displacement before February 2021.
Humanitarian actors continue to provide essential life-saving assistance to displaced people and host communities wherever they can, including through local partners in the face of serious access challenges.
Preparation efforts to contain the fourth wave of COVID-19 are underway. These include surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, and risk communication and community engagement (RCCE).
An outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) was reported in displacement camps housing those affected by the conflict between the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and in Rohingya refugee camps in three townships in Rakhine State. Humanitarian partners have intervened together to contain the outbreak and continue to monitor the situation.
In January, UNOCHA released the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), calling for $826 million to reach 6.2 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.
KEY FIGURES *
People currently displaced by clashes and insecurity across Myanmar since February 2021
In Rakhine, Kachin, Chin and Shan, people remain internally displaced due to conflicts prior to February 2021
People remain internally displaced due to conflict in southeastern Myanmar since February 2021
Civilian property, including homes, churches, monasteries and schools, has been burned or destroyed since February 2021.
**Precrowding numbers will vary during a given month. These numbers represent the number of people currently being displaced. Cumulative figures for return and displacement are not always available.
A year after the military takeover on February 1, 2021, the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar continues to be dominated by heightened hostilities between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and various ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), as well as the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) across several States and regions with no respite in sight. The intensified conflict in January led to loss of civilian life, destruction of homes and livelihoods, and increased internal and cross-border displacement.
The protection of civilians and threats to fundamental rights remain a serious concern for the humanitarian community amid escalating tensions. According to OHCHR, the violence that has swept across the country since February 2021 has claimed at least 1,5001 lives, including men, women, boys and girls, and many have been injured or maimed. Of these, more than 114 were children under the age of 18, including at least 18 children in January alone. In addition, between January 1 and December 31, 2021, UNICEF reports that 169 incidents involving landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) involving 88 civilians, including 19 women and 19 children, and another 196 people, including 33 women and 55 Children who were killed were injured.
A year of unprecedented violence has created desperate hardship in new areas, further exacerbating the humanitarian situation for those already displaced and suffering. According to UNHCR4, 441,500 people remain internally displaced due to violence and insecurity across the country as of February 2021. This latest displacement has already exceeded the number displaced in Rakhine, Chin, Shan and Kachin states from pre-military conflicts (370,400 internally displaced). As of January 31, 2022, more than 3,500 homes, churches, monasteries, schools and markets had either been burned down or destroyed, mostly in Chin and Kayah states and Sagaing and Magway regions. The humanitarian needs of displaced people and host communities are escalating and include food, shelter and supplies, and access to life-saving services, including health and education. Poverty has increased as a result of conflict and the political crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. UNDP projects that by 2022, nearly half of Myanmar’s 54 million people — around 25 million people — will be living in poverty (per cent) less than in 2020.6 Food insecurity is rising due to rising poverty. More than 13 million people are now moderately or severely food insecure across the country, which will have worrying implications for malnutrition in 2022.
In January, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), on behalf of the humanitarian community in Myanmar, released the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which earmarks US$826 million for UN agencies, international and local NGOs 6, Reach 2 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian aid must be able to physically help people in need. Access is currently extremely limited and bureaucratic, delaying the delivery of aid and prolonging people’s suffering. As the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General recently stated, the “multiple vulnerabilities of all people across Myanmar and their regional impacts require an urgent response. Access to people in need is vital to enable the United Nations and its partners to continue to make a difference on the ground.” He also added that “[a]Armed forces and all parties involved must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Faster, simplified and predictable access procedures and safeguards for the safety of workers are urgently needed for humanitarian aid on this scale, so that local, national and international organizations can assist people in need. Visa, banking, registration and letter of intent blockades remain major obstacles to an effective response and urgently need to be resolved.
Donors are urged to donate generously in solidarity with the people of Myanmar to save lives and protect hard-won development gains while there is still time. Identifying and involving additional local partners will also be crucial to provide more assistance to more people in hard-to-reach and underserved places.