Protracted displacement, local economies and protection: communities and ethnic armed organisations in Myanmar

January 10th, 2023  •  Author:   Humanitarian Practice Network  •  2 minute read
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Myanmar is a country of 55 million people, with another 5–8 million driven into exile, mostly in neighbouring countries (including one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh). About two-thirds of the population come from the majority Bama group; the rest of the population is made up of dozens of ethnic minority (or ‘nationality’) communities.

Relationships between communities, civil society networks and armed actors in Myanmar are complex, contested and variable. Since the military coup of 1 February 2021, which brought the brutal and illegitimate State Administrative Council (SAC) junta to power, the people of Myanmar have bravely resisted military violence. Many of those opposing the junta have roots in civil society and Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), dozens of which have been struggling against the Myanmar military for decades.

By August 2022, 1.5 million people had been forcibly displaced and at least 3,000 killed by the Myanmar Army since the coup. There were half a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the southeast alone. Since then, the number of civilians brutally killed and tortured by the military regime has increased significantly. These include ethnic nationality Karen and Mon communities, where the Protracted Displacement Economies (PDE) team and local partner groups are undertaking research under exceptionally difficult and dangerous conditions.


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