Myanmar

Myanmar

In Myanmar, the Danish Refugee Council provides emergency assistance to enable people displaced by conflict and natural disasters to better absorb such shocks. Provision of shelter, Non-Food Items (NFIs) and tailor-made assistance to people with special needs are just some of the ways in which DRC assists people in acute crisis.

When conditions allow, DRC provides early recovery assistance to help communities bounce back after conflict and disaster. Reconstruction is accompanied by interventions such as alternative livelihoods support, cash grants and trainings aimed at increasing communities’ resilience in the face of recurring disasters and armed conflict.

DRC via its mine action unit, the Danish Demining Group (DDG), also seeks to address the threat posed by landmine contamination resulting from decades of civil strife. Myanmar is highly contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnances. To provide communities and especially children with the information to effectively protect themselves from the threat of landmines is therefore an essential element in DRC’s protection efforts.

Areas of operation
DRC focuses its efforts on the areas most severely affected by displacement; Rakhine, Kachin and the Southeast.

In  Rakhine, DRC  has  been operational  since 2010 when  it  initially  provided  emergency assistance  to  communities  most  affected  by  cyclone  Giri. Today DRC  implements  disaster  risk  reduction  (DRR)  integrated  rehabilitation  and  recovery  activities  in  65 villages. The already well established presence in Rakhine State provided a solid platform for responding to the displacement situation arising from the outbreak of sectarian violence starting in June 2012.

In Kachin, DRC has responded to the large scale displacement caused by the collapse of a long-lasting  ceasefire  agreement  between  the  Government  of  Myanmar  and  the  Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and other factions. Since mid 2012, DRC has assisted IDPs in camps and is ready to support people who have returned to their villages. In collaboration with local partners, DRC provides emergency shelter material, NFIs and protection assistance to least assisted IDPs in hard to reach areas.

In the Southeast, DRC will from 2013 work towards establishing a presence to address existing displacement  issues  in  the  area  and  provide  assistance  to  the  eventual  return  movement  of Burmese refugees based in Thailand. To this effect, DRC will engage in local networks and liaise closely with local actors in the border area.

Displacement situation
Decades of armed conflict between government forces and various non-state armed groups and recent ethnic clashes have caused large-scale internal displacement particularly in eastern and western Myanmar.

In Rakhine, inter-ethnic violence between Rakhine and Muslim communities erupted in June 2012 and started a spiral of violence leaving more than 110,000 people displaced in  temporary  camps  and  shelters  where  they  face deteriorating living conditions. Inter-agency rapid needs assessments have since highlighted major needs in protection, food, shelter, NFI and WASH for the affected population.

In Kachin, the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire agreement re-ignited fighting between government forces and ethnic insurgent non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and has since June 2011 led to an increase  in  the  IDP  population  from  50,000  in  December  2011  to  85,000  in  September  2012 (UNOCHA). More than 100 IDP camps and make-shift settlements are scattered in the border area to China, the western, central and southern parts of Kachin State, and parts of Northern Shan State.  Access  to  IDP  camps  in  certain  areas  is  difficult  and  a  needs  assessment  conducted  by DRC  staff  and  local  partners  revealed  alarming  needs  in  terms  of  shelter,  NFI, food,  and  basic livelihood,  especially  in  camps  in  non-government  controlled  areas.  Furthermore,  landmine contamination  is  widespread  as  evidenced  by  the  Landmine  Monitor  declaring  Myanmar  an Emergency Mine Education priority.

In the Southeast, conflict between government forces and various armed opposition groups has been ongoing  for  decades  and  has  led  to  numerous  areas  being  deemed  unsafe  due  to  mine contamination  and  occasional  violations  of  ceasefire  accords.  This  situation creates a real barrier to the safe return of displaced populations, both IDPs and the approximately 145,000  refugees  residing  in  Thailand  (TBBC).  It  is  estimated  that  112,000  people within the Southeast were forced to leave their homes during 2011 and figures for the entire SE region estimate a total of about 450,000 IDPs (TBBC). Dialogue is ongoing between the governments of Thailand and Myanmar on prospects for a return movement, meanwhile some spontaneous return is taking place.

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