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.
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.
Partners and donors