What are the needs?
Myanmar/Burma has been experiencing conflict in several border regions for more than four decades leading to the displacements of thousands of people. In addition, natural disasters have regularly hit the country.
Since the new government took office following elections in November 2010, ceasefires have been concluded with many of the ethnic groups. However, in June 2011, armed conflict resumed in Kachin State, resulting in a humanitarian crisis which caused massive displacements. Inter-communal violence between the Muslim minorities such as the Rohingya and the Buddhist communities in Rakhine State has also resulted in the displacement of thousands. At present, more than 140 000 people have been internally displaced and 800 000 people are deprived of their basic rights.
Public unrest and hostility towards international aid workers are hampering the ability of international aid organisations to provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people.
In addition to ethnic tensions, Myanmar/Burma is regularly exposed to natural disasters, such as 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.
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.
In 2012-2014, the European Commission allocated nearly €57 million to help those affected by conflict and communal violence in Myanmar/Burma. In the year of 2013 alone, €25 million were provided to assist those affected by conflict and communal violence in Kachin, Rakhine, Chin State and the Eastern border, as well as €4.5 million to support refugees and host communities in Thailand. The sectors in which assistance was provided included water and sanitation, health, food, shelter and basic household items.
At the moment, thousands of people remain displaced throughout the country, living in dire conditions. Several disrupted harvests and the prohibition of access to markets in areas hit by violence have further worsened the humanitarian situation. In November 2013, the European Commission decided to commit an additional €3 million to bring urgently needed food, nutrition and livelihood support to the most vulnerable in Rakhine, Kachin and Northern Shan states.
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 1996. Some €2.6 million have been allocated since 2010 for coastal flood-prone areas and urban earthquake risks measures.