Myanmar’s democratically-elected government entered office at the end of March 2016 with a huge popular mandate and enormous international optimism. The government continues the process of political and economic reforms, while at the same time facing major challenges. In the northern part of Rakhine, attacks on police posts in October 2016 and subsequent security operations saw 87,000 people displaced into Bangladesh by July 2017. On 24 August 2017, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, released its final report, ‘Towards a Peaceful, Fair and Prosperous future for the People of Rakhine’. The day after, on 25 August, the situation in northern Rakhine deteriorated dramatically when armed attacks on police posts and subsequent security operations resulted in a mass exodus of people from their homes and hundreds of villages being burned to the ground.
According to figures provided by the United Nations in Bangladesh, as of 27 January 688,000 new arrivals have been registered since 25 August, with the majority crossing the border in September and October. Over 25,000 Rakhine Buddhists and people from ethnic minority groups were also displaced, but most of these people had returned by November 2017, apart from about 2,000 people who have not yet been able to return to their place of origin. In Kachin and Shan states, armed conflict has continued and an estimated 106,000 displaced people remain in camps. Meanwhile, the entire country remains highly prone to natural disasters. During the monsoon season from July to September 2017, more than 300,000 people were temporarily displaced due to floods throughout the country.
About 241,000 displaced people – of which 77 per cent are women and children – remain in camps or camp-like situations in Kachin, Kayin, Shan and Rakhine states. This includes approximately 92,000 people in Kachin, 15,000 in Shan and 5,600 in Kayin who remain displaced as a result of the armed conflict. It also includes about 129,000 people in Rakhine who were displaced as a result of the violence in 2012. In addition, there are particularly vulnerable non-displaced people, including the youth, elderly and disabled people who continue to require special attention and/or support as a result of different factors including, amongst others, armed conflict, statelessness, movement restrictions and malnutrition.
To address these needs, combinations of different types of support may be needed from a range of actors involved in humanitarian, development, human rights and peace-building activities. This is particularly true in Rakhine State where the situation has changed dramatically in the past year following the armed attacks on police posts in northern Rakhine in August 2017 and subsequent security operations. People from all communities have been affected, resulting in complex needs which demand different responses. Humanitarian action is a vital component of a comprehensive approach that is needed to address the short, medium and long-term needs and human rights of vulnerable communities.