What are the needs?
Myanmar/Burma has experienced conflict in several border regions for more than six decades, leading to the displacement of tens of thousands of people. The country is also prone to natural disasters.
In June 2011, armed conflict sparked in Kachin State and northern Shan State, resulting in the displacement of more than 100 000 people. In late 2014, fighting broke out in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone, close to China, causing 70 000 people to flee.
In central Rakhine State, inter-communal violence between Muslim minorities such as the Rohingya and Buddhist communities in 2012 resulted in the displacement of 140 000 people. In early 2015, the government supported the return/resettlement of some 2 000 households, with another 6 000 targeted. However, most displaced people will probably remain in camps for the years to come.
In the northern townships of Rakhine State, the 800 000 to 1 million Rohingya people (more than 80% of the population) have been rendered stateless by the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law. They are deprived of their basic rights, and restrictions of movement seriously impact their livelihood and access to basic services.
Both in Rakhine and Kachin, humanitarian access remains a problem. Lengthy and cumbersome administrative procedures hamper the ability of international aid organisations to provide life-saving assistance.
Myanmar/Burma is also regularly exposed to cyclones, floods and earthquakes. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis killed some 140 000 people and destroyed thousands of homes in the Irrawaddy delta. In 2010, Cyclone Giri made landfall in Rakhine State, causing destruction and loss of life. The three main cities are located on the active Sagaing fault line, which causes concern about the possible impact of a major earthquake due to accelerated urbanisation.
How are we helping?
The European Commission, through its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), has been funding relief programmes in Myanmar/Burma since 1994.
Since 1994, the European Commission has provided some €111 million in relief assistance for victims of conflicts and communal violence, as well as response to epidemics, and a further €80 million for victims of natural disasters.
To reduce the impact of natural disasters and improve the capacities of communities at risk to better prepare and protect themselves from disasters, ECHO set up the DIPECHO (Disaster Preparedness ECHO) programme. In Myanmar, some €4.9 million has been allocated since 2010 for coastal flood and cyclone-prone areas and urban earthquake risks measures.