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Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan 2023 (January 2023)

January 25th, 2023  •  Author:   United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs  •  7 minute read
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Response Plan Overview

The Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan requests US$764 million to reach 4.5 million people prioritized for life-saving humanitarian support (52 per cent women, 32 percent children and 13 per cent with disability).

The people of Myanmar have entered 2023 facing an unprecedented political, socioeconomic, human rights and humanitarian crisis with residual needs persisting from previous years, and new needs flowing from security and conflict dynamics since the military takeover on 1 February 2021. Almost half the population is thought to be living in poverty in 2023, wiping out the impressive development gains made since 2005.1 The number of people on the move as a result of conflict and depleted coping capacity has sky-rocketed in 2022 and stands at 1.5 million at the start of 2023.2 Price hikes, severe inflation, movement restrictions, armed conflict and violence have forced many of the most vulnerable people to resort to crisis or emergency coping strategies to buy food and other basic supplies, often negatively impacting on their safety, well-being, and dignity. This multi-dimensional humanitarian crisis is now affecting the whole country, posing grave protection risks for civilians, limiting access to services and deepening food insecurity.

The grim outlook outlined in the HNO makes a scaled-up, context-adapted humanitarian response essential in 2023 to prevent loss of life and reduce suffering. This response will be delivered through coordination architecture that is more fi t-for-purpose as recommended by a 2022 P2P review of the response. A new HCT Localization Strategy and workstream, also recommended by the P-2-P report, will be central to response delivery in 2023.

The UN SERRP will also have a critical complementary nexus role to play in 2023 by preventing more people from slipping into humanitarian need by addressing the root causes of the crisis, targeting those who are impoverished and at-risk but not yet in humanitarian need, supporting people to build their resilience and recover from humanitarian situations, and pivoting available development resources to reach those with urgent needs whom humanitarians are not able to reach due to funding constraints through different kinds of support. Nexus interventions under the SERRP will complement the HRP by increasing access to services and strengthening the communities’ socioeconomic resilience, as well as contributing to preventing people from slipping into situations where they must rely on humanitarian assistance for survival.

After a broader urban and rural response was implemented in 2022, addressing the humanitarian consequences and most severe economic impacts of COVID-19, as well as the conflict, the humanitarian response strategy in 2023 follows a slightly narrower geographical scope of action. In agreement with the development community in Myanmar, the HRP in 2023 will focus predominantly on people in need in rural areas, essentially transitioning the signifi cant caseload of vulnerable people in peri-urban and urban areas to development partners for more durable support through programming focused on resilience, prevention, and improved living conditions.

The HRP is strategically aimed at providing life-saving assistance to those immediately affected by shocks, including people who are displaced, as well as those who are acutely crisis-affected and have humanitarian needs. The response will aim to alleviate suffering for people facing acute vulnerabilities such as mental and physical disability; those using dangerous coping strategies; internally displaced people and returnees; and those living in households headed by women, children, or the elderly. There is a heavy emphasis on addressing food insecurity in the Response Plan given the worsening national trends and enormous needs revealed in the HNO analysis for 2023. Protection responses and advocacy are a top priority that will be implemented through systematic information collection, protection monitoring and analysis, guided by the HCT’s newly updated Protection Strategy.

The focus will be on identifying people with specific needs and reaching the most at-risk with life-saving and emergency protection services that reduce the adoption of negative coping strategies and improve people’s safety and dignity.

In 2022, humanitarian partners demonstrated their ability to scale up their response in the difficult new operating environment reaching at least 3.9 million people3 out of the 6.2 million people targeted for assistance in the HRP by September using adopting flexible response modalities to ensure continuity of operations. However, this assistance has not been as multi-sectoral or as weighted towards new conflict areas as planned due to gross under-funding and heavy access constraints.

Despite a shrinking space for the humanitarian response, operational partners continue to have presence and capacity across the country and are committed to staying and delivering a well-coordinated life-saving response amid increasingly challenging circumstances in 2023. With all clusters (except Logistics) fully activated nationally, humanitarian organizations have gone to great lengths to expand their footprint into areas of new need and are reaching increasing numbers of people affected by the expanding conflict. In addition to established partners who have demonstrated the scope to expand their existing response, a major effort is ongoing to link up with new partners, particularly local organizations, to increase access and reach, especially into hard-to-reach, conflict areas. At the start of 2023, 219 operational cluster partners stand ready to provide life-saving assistance to people in need, a significant increase from the 130 partners operational in quarter 1 of 2022.4

In 2023, humanitarians will continue to try all viable avenues to deliver assistance and alleviate the suffering of affected people, recognizing that there are some areas that are easier for certain actors to reach than others – especially at-scale. Those who are in-country will continue working to keep an internal window of access to affected people open – often by supporting local partners working heroically in the deep field – while simultaneously coordinating with those who are delivering assistance through remote modalities. Expanded humanitarian access, especially to conflict-affected areas, is vital to delivering on the HRP’s aims and partners will continue to employ a principled approach to access negotiations. To deepen access in all areas of the country and enable humanitarian organizations to deliver assistance, the revitalized Humanitarian Access Working Group (HAWG) will guide analysis, access and civil-military coordination and advocacy.

Alternative delivery approaches, including cash, remote and private sector modalities will continue to be explored to reach more people in the constrained environment. In line with standard global approaches, humanitarians will continue to engage with all sides to secure access to people in need of humanitarian support and raise protection concerns with parties to the conflict. Such engagement is a practical necessity to ensure staff can safely enter conflict areas to deliver assistance. Politicization of this practical humanitarian engagement and instrumentalization of humanitarian actors in 2022 has put staff in danger and there are concerns about the safety of aid workers in this highly charged environment. To ensure no one is left behind, humanitarian workers in Myanmar must be allowed to do their jobs free from restrictions and harassment, in line with all the protections afforded to them under International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Despite the predominant public discourse, humanitarian focus group discussions (FGDs) with affected people in different parts of the country over the past year have consistently suggested that the most vulnerable people want humanitarians to continue with our existing work to meet their urgent and immediate needs, whatever way they can. These less visible but very vulnerable people who are receiving vital assistance continue to tell humanitarian actors that their help is a lifeline and that they are fearful of it stopping.

The response will continue to emphasize the importance of enhancing AAP work, reinforcing Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA); preventing and responding to Gender-Based Violence (GBV); strengthening gender, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS); and promoting and delivering on disability inclusion. Humanitarian systems will be strengthened through dedicated technical working groups on these areas, as well as other cross-cutting and thematic topics. Cash will play an increasingly important role in the restrictive operational environment as a means to get assistance to people in need. Cash coordination will be scaled up in 2023 with an in-depth review planned on the feasibility of moving to a genuine multi-purpose cash approach, encompassing the breadth of the humanitarian response in 2024.

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