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Myanmar Emergency Update (as of 18 October 2021)

October 20th, 2021  •  Author:   United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  •  2 minute read
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22,000 Estimated refugee movements to neighbouring countries since 1 February 2021

980,000 Refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar in neighbouring countries as of 31 December 2020

219,000 Estimated total internal displacement within Myanmar since 1 February 2021

589,000 Estimated internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Myanmar as of 18 October


Of the total 589,000 internally displaced people in Myanmar, approximately 219,000 have been displaced by armed conflict and unrest since 1 February 2021, while numbers of refugees who have fled to neighboring countries remained steady at some 22,000. The majority of those displaced internally since 1 February—some 155,000 IDPs—remain displaced in South-East Myanmar and Shan State (South), including over 4,000 people newly displaced in the last two weeks by clashes between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) or people’s defence forces (PDFs) in Thayetchaung Township, Tanintharyi Region, and between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) in Mongkaing Township, Shan State (South). New displacement was also observed in Thantlang and Matupi townships, Chin State, as armed conflict escalated. Small-scale returns have been observed in some parts of the country, such as Yebyu Township, Tanintharyi Region, and Myaung and Kani townships in Sagaing region, following a pattern of temporary and fluid displacement in which people seek immediate refuge in nearby forests or safe locations, then return home once fighting in their villages subsides.

With fuel and other commodities becoming scarce as prices rise sharply, IDPs and other vulnerable communities—such as the Rohingya in Rakhine State—are at risk of becoming increasingly isolated due to transport challenges that impact both humanitarian access and livelihood opportunities. Electricity cuts and communications disruptions continue in much of South-East Myanmar, while prolonged internet shutdowns have been reported in Sagaing Region and Kachin State’s Hpakant Township. The COVID-19 pandemic also continues to spread among IDPs, with new cases reported in Demoso and Hpruso townships in Kayah State, despite COVID-19 positive rates declining nationally. At the same time, ongoing security concerns—ranging from increasing explosions and landmines in the South-East to vandalism and destruction of private property and religious sites in the North-West—continue to make it extremely difficult for IDPs to meet their basic needs.

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