This regular update, covering humanitarian developments up to 26 September, is produced by OCHA Myanmar in collaboration with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group and UN agencies. The next humanitarian update will be issued at the end of October 2022.
HIGHLIGHTS & KEY MESSAGES
Ongoing hostilities, insecurity, economic stress and soaring inflation are significantly impacting the lives, movement and safety of conflict-affected people across the country. The conflict has led to the deaths of more than 2,316 people, including an estimated 188 children, and has caused injury to thousands of others. Between January and July 2022 alone, UNICEF recorded 206 casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The actual number is likely to be higher due to underreporting as a result of access constraints, insecurity, and telecommunication challenges. More than 1 million people have been internally displaced since the 2021 military takeover, bringing the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) to more than 1.3 million across the country, as of 26 September 2022, according to latest UN figures.
Local and international humanitarian partners have been rapidly scaling up efforts to respond to pre-existing and emerging needs using creative approaches to overcome access constraints. During the first half of 2022, partners reached 3.1 million people with assistance at least once which represents half of the target for the year. However, access constraints and underfunding have meant this assistance is often intermittent and does not cover the full range of people’s needs. Immediate removal of access obstacles, particularly in conflict areas, and increased funding to the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan are urgently needed for humanitarian partners to respond to escalating needs, provide protection and alleviate suffering.
Escalating conflict in Rakhine and Southern Chin prompts severe access restrictions for humanitarian partners
Fighting between the AA-MAF has continued across Rakhine State and Paletwa Township in Chin State. Since August, more than 17,400 people have been newly displaced, bringing the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) from past and present AA-MAF fighting in these areas to more than 91,000, according to UN latest figures. The use of heavy weapons, airstrikes, landmines and mortar shelling has been seen in multiple townships, mainly in Maungdaw, Rathedaung and Buthidaung in northern Rakhine; and Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, and Minbya in central Rakhine. In a new dynamic, conflict between the AA and the MAF has also spread to southern Rakhine. Amid fears about inter-communal tension, arbitrary arrests, indiscriminate attacks, and destruction to private property, many people have left their villages.
One mother who fled her village in Mrauk-U township describes the situation. “I had experienced and witnessed military troops shooting [in random] directions during the armed conflicts. That is why, when our village was hit by heavy artillery in early morning, we fled”. When she arrived at Ywar Thit Kay displacement site with nothing, she received humanitarian assistance and was provided with a cooking set and other essential items but like others at this site, she still needs food and shelter. There are concerns about the safety of returns, with the de facto authorities reportedly pushing people displaced from AA-MAF conflict to go back to their places of origin before October of this year even as fighting continues.
Local and international humanitarian partners have been working to meet the basic needs of affected people however access to displaced people has become increasingly difficult. Security measures have tightened in many areas across the state; waterways and roads have become blocked in northern Rakhine; and the transportation of medical supplies and food has been restricted into Paletwa. These measures have limited people’s movement and are obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. On 15 September, the de facto authorities prohibited the UN and INGOs from accessing six key townships – Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Mrauk-U, Minbya, Myebon – until further notice. Access requests to the other 11 townships in Rakhine continue to be processed but food and nutrition activities continue to face problems. These service and supply interruptions are compounding the suffering of affected people who depend on humanitarian support for their survival. The movement restrictions have also prompted concerns about commercial shortages and surging prices for key commodities, including food, in some areas. The UN is advocating for restrictions to be eased for humanitarian activities and for expedited access through checkpoints for humanitarian actors delivering critical assistance. In addition, funding is urgently required to address needs and overcome contingency supply shortages. Since May, the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA) has also been pushing to introduce a parallel registration and travel notification system for humanitarian actors in Rakhine and this has resulted in additional interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities.