Refugee Day is Every Day

June 28th, 2024  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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World Refugee Day is marked just once a year. But for refugees and IDPs across Myanmar and the world, Refugee Day is every day.

This year’s World Refugee Day marked another year of waves of displacement across Myanmar since the attempted coup of 1 February 2024. The day serves as a stark reminder to the international community of the worsening human rights and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and their obligation to do more to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to displaced populations. In addition, it echoes the need to hold the perpetrators of the crisis accountable for their violence and atrocities that caused this unprecedented mass displacement: the Myanmar military.

As of June 2024, over 3 million people have been displaced due to brutality and atrocity crimes committed by the Myanmar military before and after the coup attempt. And this figure is likely a gross underestimation of the actual magnitude of displacement based on reports from community-based local humanitarian responders on the ground with direct access to affected populations.

In Tanintharyi Region, southern Myanmar, the recent junta-imposed violence has displaced more than 58,000 people as of mid-June. Moving to western Myanmar, Matupi Township, Chin State, in June alone over 300 refugees have fled to Mizoram, India, while hundreds more are internally displaced and trapped in the area amidst the recent fighting between the Myanmar military junta and the Chin resistance forces. These recent instances of displacement from Tanintharyi Region and Chin State are just snapshots of a nationwide pattern of the Myanmar military junta’s terror campaign and the subsequent human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding across Myanmar.

In Rakhine State, a spike in violence by both Myanmar junta troops and the Arakan Army (AA) has been exacerbating the displacement of entire villages and towns throughout the state. The AA’s expansion of territorial control in Rakhine State, particularly in Buthidaung Town in which the majority of the town population are ethnic Rohingya, has resulted in Rohingya being displaced and facing severe hardship while facing other forms of abuses. As reported by Burmese Rohingya Organization UK, in recent months alone, over 200,000 Rohingya have been forcibly displaced by the AA from villages under the control of the AA, with at least 1,500 Rohingya killed by AA soldiers since March. Recently, the AA warned residents of Maungdaw Township, where the majority of its inhabitants are also Rohingya, to leave the town while all routes remain blocked by the junta. As a result, Daignet, Mro, Rakhine, Rohingya, and other religious and ethnic minorities have found themselves trapped in escalated conflict as the AA defeated the Myanmar military and sought control of the areas.

While Rohingya on one side of the border endure the turmoil of conflict and burning of their homes, approximately one million Rohingya refugees on the other side face the devastation of heavy rains and landslides, which further exacerbate their already dire situation of growing insecurity, aid cuts, and deadly fires. Recently, deadly landslides and flooding struck Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, tragically killing seven people including children. Heavy monsoons have affected over 930,000 refugees across 33 camps in Cox’s Bazar, resulting in the destruction of an estimated 1,200 shelters. Such climate vulnerabilities occur annually, yet Rohingya communities are often left without adequate disaster preparedness and protection measures.

On World Refugee Day, 128 organizations together urged the international community to address the root cause of the unprecedented mass displacement and its impacts on regional peace and security. Their calls emphasize the need to directly support trusted local frontline humanitarian responders and locally managed cross-border channels. The statement further calls on Myanmar’s neighboring countries and the broader international community to uphold the principle of non-refoulement; end arbitrary detentions, pushbacks, and deportations of Myanmar’s fleeing population; and instead guarantee legal protection and provide humanitarian aid, as well as access to essential services.

Statements from Karen Human Rights Group and The Border Consortium have also sounded the alarm for the urgent need for humanitarian assistance for IDPs in Karen State, for refugees sheltering in refugee camps and on the run along the Thailand-Myanmar border, and for thousands of Myanmar people crossing international borders to seek safety from the Myanmar military’s violence and persecution.

Echoing urgent appeals from civil society, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasized the vital importance for countries in the region to guarantee international protection and aid provision. He firmly stated that, “Nobody should be forcibly returned to Myanmar at this time.” This underscores the critical need for neighboring countries to uphold the principle of non-refoulement, given fatal risks faced by Myanmar people of being handed over to the military junta and potentially arrested and imprisoned or forced into the military to fight against democratic resistance forces.

This year has witnessed a staggering record of displacement, with 120 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. Myanmar’s crisis, however, has been largely underreported and lacks the attention and support of the international community it deserves. Rather than persisting with the highly detrimental business-as-usual approach, the international community must follow effective and practical recommendations proposed by Myanmar civil society, who engage directly with, or are rooted in, affected communities. Their approach has demonstrated greater effectiveness, especially in the delivery of lifesaving emergency humanitarian aid. The international community must recognize the fact that any aid delivered in partnership with or through the junta is manipulated and weaponized for its advantage, rather than reaching those in most desperate need.

World Refugee Day is marked just once a year. But for refugees and IDPs across Myanmar and the world, Refugee Day is every day. Today, like yesterday, like tomorrow, Myanmar’s displaced populations continue to lack sufficient food and water, safe shelter, access to essential services, and protection, living in constant fear of junta attacks. It is not only for the international community to reflect on its failure on this day, but it must step up and adjust its conventional approach to provide aid to those who need it the most.

[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Joint Statement on World Refugee Day: End the Myanmar military junta’s atrocities causing mass displacement

By 128 Civil Society Organizations

ကမ္ဘာ့ဒုက္ခသည်များနေ့ ပူးတွဲထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက် – အစုလိုက်အပြုံလိုက် နေရပ်စွန့်ခွာထွက်ပြေးတိမ်းရှောင်ရမှု ဖြစ်ပေါ်စေသည့် မြန်မာစစ်အုပ်စု၏ ရက်စက်ကြမ်းကြုတ်မှု များအား အဆုံးသတ်ရန်

By 128 Civil Society Organizations

EU releases €15 million in humanitarian aid for people in Myanmar and refugees on the country’s borders 

By European Commission

Myanmar: Investigate Civilian Killings in Karenni State, Hold Perpetrators Accountable

By Fortify Rights

မဏိပူရ်ပြည်နယ်ရှိ မတရား ဖမ်းဆီးထိန်းသိမ်းခံများ၏ အစာငတ်ခံ ဆန္ဒပြ တောင်းဆိုမှုနှင့် မြန်မပြည်သူ များနှင့်အတူ ရပ်တည်ရန် အိန္ဒိယ အစိုးရ အပေါ် တောင်းဆိုသော ပူးတွဲ သဘောထား ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By India for Myanmar, Blood Money Campaign, Defend Myanmar Democracy, Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation

စစ်အုပ်စု၏ ဒစ်ဂျစ်တယ်ထောက်လှမ်းရေးနှင့် အင်တာနက်ဆင်ဆာ ဖြတ်တောက်ရေးတွင် ပါဝင်နေသည့် တရုတ်နှင့် မြန်မာကုမ္ပဏီများအပေါ် ဒဏ်ခတ်ပိတ်ဆို့မှုများ ချမှတ်ရန် JFM တောင်းဆို

By Justice for Myanmar

JFM Calls for Action Against Chinese and Myanmar Companies Involved in Junta Digital Surveillance and Censorship

By Justice for Myanmar

Statement on 2024 International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

By Karen Human Rights Group

Statement on World Refugee Day

By Karen Human Rights Group

A Message to honor the day of “Eid al-Adha

By National Unity Government

မြန်မာနိုင်ငံရှိ ရိုဟင်ဂျာမွတ်စလင်များနှင့်အခြားသောလူနည်းစုများ၏ လူ့အခွင့်အရေးအခြေအနေ အပေါ် ကုလသမဂ္ဂ လူ့အခွင့်အရေးဆိုင်ရာမဟာမင်းကြီးနှင့် အပြန်အလှန်ဆွေးနွေးမှု

By National Unity Government and Ministry of Human Rights

UN Human Rights HC Volker Türk Delivered an Oral Update on Myanmar to the 56th Human Rights Council 

By Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Myanmar: A Breakneck Speed “Disintegration of Human Rights,” says High Commissioner

By Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Appeal to the Government of India Regarding the Unjust Detention of People from Manipur

By Sagaing Federal Council

SAC-M သည် မောင်တောတွင် ကြီးမားပြင်းထန်သော ချိုးဖောက်မှုများ ဖြစ်ပေါ်နိုင်ခြင်းအပေါ် စိုးရိမ်ပူပန်ကြောင်း ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်းနှင့် လက်နက်ကိုင်အဖွဲ့အားလုံးကို ပြည်သူများ၏ လုံခြုံရေးကို အာမခံရန် တိုက်တွန်းကြောင်း ပြောကြားလိုက်သည်

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

SAC-M Expresses Serious Concern Over Risk of Grave Violations in Maungdaw and Calls on All Armed Actors to Ensure Protection of Civilians

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

ASEAN and UN Must Wake Up and Respond to New Realities in Myanmar

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

World Refugee Day Statement 2024

By The Border Consortium

အိန္ဒိယနိုင်ငံ မြန်မာကိုယ်စားလှယ်ရုံး ကိုယ်စားလှယ်ဖြစ်သူ ဆလိုင်းအိုင်းဇက်ခင်မှ အတွင်းရေးမှူး အမျိုးသမီးအား လိင်ပိုင်းဆိုင်ရာ ထိပါးနှောင့်ယှက် အမြတ်ထုတ်မှုအပေါ် အမျိုးသမီးများအဖွဲ့ချုပ် (မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ) ၏ ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက်

By Women’s League of Burma



Waves of Junta and AA Attacks Once Again Target Rohingya

By ALTSEAN-Burma and Rohingya Maiyufuinor Collaborative Network

တရားမဝင်စစ်မှုထမ်းနှင့် အမျိုးသမီးများအပေါ်သက်ရောက်မှုများ

By Burmese Women’s Union

Myanmar’s Illegal Conscription Law and Its Impact on Women

By Burmese Women’s Union

Three-Year Activities Report Of National Unity Government, Ministry of Health (2021-2024)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Health)

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”