Changes in Context
The people of Myanmar continue to face an unprecedented political, human rights, and humanitarian crisis that is posing grave protection risks for civilians, limiting access to vital services including health and education, and driving deep food insecurity. Humanitarian needs have worsened across the country as conflict continues to rage, causing unprecedented levels of displacement, destruction of property, and land mine contamination especially in the country’s northwest and southeast and driving grave protection risks for civilians. Forced recruitment – including of children – is being increasingly reported. The use of heavy weapons, including air strikes and artillery fire, continues to claim lives and pose risks to the safety and security of civilians, while raids, random searches and arrests are of grave concern. The destruction of civilian properties, particularly homes, combined with the protracted fighting, is prolonging the displacement of IDPs and further degrading people’s fragile living conditions.
The arrival of the monsoon in the second quarter of the year has been a miserable time for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people living in informal sites and in the jungle or forest without proper shelter.
While there have been modest access openings, these are very localized, and the overall access environment remains heavily constrained with a strong reliance on and risk transfer to low-profile local responders.
Humanitarian operating space is under increasing threat from bureaucratic blockages imposed by the de facto authorities around registration, travel, banking, and visas. While the economy has shown a glimmer of improvement in the past few months, inflation is undermining this modest recovery at the household level with fuel and food becoming increasingly unaffordable and adding to financial stress in vulnerable households.
Expansion of conflict
In the first half of the year, fighting has further escalated across multiple states and regions in Myanmar, particularly in the Northwest and Southeast, with no signs of abating. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, since the military takeover, nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed during hostilities and other fatal incidents, including as a result of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs).1 Nearly 20,000 civilian properties, including houses, churches, monasteries, and schools, are estimated to have been destroyed during hostilities, although figures are difficult to verify.
The Northwest has seen the greatest intensification of conflict between the MAF and PDFs and the biggest surge in displacement since the original HRP was published. Now, more than half of all new IDPs are in the Northwest, with the heaviest concentration in Sagaing. There have been various waves of fighting in different states across the Southeast as the MAF has attempted to take control of EAO-controlled areas.
Across the Southeast, fighting intensified in January and February as the MAF intensified campaigns in Kayin and Kayah states. In Kayin state, combined MAF/Border Guard Forces and combined KNU/ PDF forces clashed frequently and intensely. Heavy artillery shelling and airstrikes in these areas caused mass displacement, including across the border into Thailand. During the same period fighting escalated substantially across nearly all of Kayah state between the MAF and the aligned Karenni resistance groups.
Loikaw town, in particular, experienced a sustained campaign of aerial bombardment that caused 80 per cent of the town to be displaced to other parts of Kayah state and southern Shan. Fighting also intensified throughout other parts of the Southeast, particularly during the second quarter, with heavy clashes and sudden spikes in displacement in Mon, Tanintharyi and eastern Bago between the MAF and aligned militia groups and the KNU and PDFs.
In Rakhine, a ceasefire between the MAF and Arakan Army (AA), continued to hold at mid-year but tensions are building with sporadic confrontations presenting the very real risk that the conflict could resume in the second half of the year. Intermittent clashes, numerous mine incidents, arrests, and counter-arrests on both sides have been reported with some smallscale displacement. Contingency planning has been undertaken in case the situation worsens.