This regular update, covering humanitarian developments from 1 and 31 January, is produced by OCHA Myanmar in collaboration with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group and UNHCR. The next humanitarian update will be issued in March 2022.
- The security and humanitarian situations across Myanmar have further deteriorated during January with intensified conflict in multiple states and regions, particularly in northwest and southeast Myanmar, resulting in additional loss of life, destruction of civilian property and increasing internal and cross- border displacement.
- As of 31 January, an estimated 441,500 people remained internally displaced across Myanmar due to clashes and insecurity since 1 February 2021. This is in addition to the 370,400 people living in protracted displacement before February 2021.
- Humanitarian actors have continued providing critical life-saving assistance to displaced people and host communities wherever they can, including through local partners amid serious access challenges.
- Preparedness efforts to contain the fourth wave of COVID-19 are ongoing. These include surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, and Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE).
- An outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) has been reported in displacement sites hosting those affected by Arakan Army (AA)-Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) conflict and in Rohingya IDP camps in three townships in Rakhine State. Humanitarian partners have collectively intervened to contain the outbreak and continue monitoring the situation.
- In January, UNOCHA released the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which requests US$826 million to reach 6.2 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian support.
KEY FIGURES *
People currently displaced across Myanmar by clashes and insecurity since February 2021
People remain internally displaced in Rakhine, Kachin, Chin and Shan due to conflict before February 2021
People remain internally displaced in southeast Myanmar due to conflict since February 2021
Civilian properties, including houses, churches, monasteries and schools burnt down or destroyed since February 2021.
**Displacement figures fluctuate during any given month. These figures represent the number of people currently displaced. Cumulative numbers for returns and displacement are not always available.
A year on from the 1 February 2021 military takeover, the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar continues to be dominated by intensified hostilities between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and various ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), as well as People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) across multiple states and regions, with no respite on the horizon. Heightened conflict during January saw loss of civilian lives, destruction of homes and livelihoods, and a surge in internal and cross-border displacement.
Protection of civilians and threats to basic rights remain a grave concern for the humanitarian community among escalating tensions. According to OHCHR, the violence that has ensued and spread across the country since February 2021 has claimed the lives of at least 1,5001 people, including men, women, boys and girls, and many have been injured or maimed. Of the total, more than 114 were children under 18 years old, including at least 18 children in January alone. Furthermore, between 1 January and 31 December 2021, UNICEF reports that 169 landmine and explosive remnant of war (ERW) incidents in which 88 civilians, including 19 women and 19 children, were killed and another 196 people, including 33 women and 55 children, were injured.
A year of unprecedented violence has driven desperate need in new areas and has further compounded the humanitarian situation for those already displaced and suffering. According to UNHCR,4 441,500 people remain internally displaced across the country due to violence and insecurity since February 2021. This recent displacement has already exceeded the number of displaced people in Rakhine, Chin, Shan and Kachin states from conflicts prior to the military takeover (370,400 IDPs). As of 31 January 2022, more than 3,500 houses, churches, monasteries, schools, and markets had been either burnt down or destroyed, mainly in Chin and Kayah states and Sagaing and Magway regions. The humanitarian needs of displaced people as well as host communities are escalating and include food, shelter and relief items, as well as access to life-saving services, including health and education. As a result of conflict and the political crisis, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty has surged. UNDP projects that nearly half of Myanmar’s 54 million people – some 25 million people – are in poverty heading into 2022. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that in 2021, only 18.9 million women and men were employed, which is 1.6 million (8 per cent) fewer than in 2020.6 Food insecurity is rising because of increasing poverty. More than 13 million people are now in moderate or severe food insecurity across the country with concerning implications for malnutrition in 2022.
In January, on behalf of the humanitarian community in Myanmar, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), published the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which requests US$826 million for UN agencies, international and local NGOs to reach 6.2 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian support.
Humanitarians need to be able to physically get help to people in need. Access is currently extremely limited and bureaucratic, delaying the delivery of assistance and prolonging people’s suffering. As recently noted by the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, the “multiple vulnerabilities of all people across Myanmar and its regional implications require an urgent response. Access to people in need is critically important for the United Nations and partners to continue to deliver on the ground.” He also added that “[a]rmed forces and all stakeholders must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Quicker, simplified and predictable access processes and assurances of aid worker safety are urgently needed for a humanitarian response of this size, allowing local, national and international organizations to support people in need. Visa, banking, registration and MOU blockages remain major obstacles to effective response and must urgently be resolved.
Donors are urged to give generously, in solidarity with the people of Myanmar to save lives and protect hard-fought development gains while there is still a window to do so. Identifying and engaging additional local partners will also be critical to delivering more assistance to more people in hard-to-reach and under-served locations.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs