Myanmar faces multiple ongoing conflicts between the military forces and ethnic armed groups. The conflict is marked by widespread violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws causing substantial humanitarian needs. More than 318,000 people, displaced by conflict, currently live in camps in Kachin, Shan, Rakhine, Chin, and Kayin states, with limited access to basic services. Restricted humanitarian access to several areas hampers the ability of international aid organisations to provide crucial assistance to people in need. Recurrent natural hazards also increase the vulnerability of people living in disaster-prone areas.
The United Nations estimates that more than 986,000 people in the country are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, including those displaced in the conflict-torn states of Kachin, Kayin, Shan and Rakhine.
Violence in northern Rakhine, which started on 25 August 2017, forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee across the border into Bangladesh. Approximately 600,000 stateless Rohingyas remain in Rakhine state, 129,000 of whom have been confined to camps and deprived of basic rights, including freedom of movement and access to livelihoods. Restricted access to large parts of Rakhine state poses a significant challenge and has severely hampered the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid in the area. Furthermore, ongoing fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army, an armed group in Rakhine, has resulted in the displacement of close to 90,000 non-Rohingya populations in Rakhine and Chin states since December 2018.
In Kachin, Kayin and Shan states, prolonged armed conflicts have also taken a heavy toll on the local population. To date, more than 112,000 people are still displaced following clashes between armed groups and security forces. Limited humanitarian access severely restricts humanitarian operations particularly in areas beyond government control.
In 2020, the European Union allocated €14 million in humanitarian aid to address the immediate needs of displaced and conflict-affected communities in Myanmar. In December 2019, an additional €10 million was mobilised to address the crucial needs of the Rohingya people and host communities in both Myanmar and Bangladesh. In Rakhine state, the EU works with trusted humanitarian partners to address the protection, food, nutrition and health needs of the most vulnerable people, particularly in the northern townships. Following the violence in August 2017, the EU has stepped up its humanitarian assistance in the form of food, nutritional care, healthcare, water and sanitation, coordination, and protection, including mine education.
The EU also provides humanitarian aid to those affected by conflict in Kachin and northern Shan states. In addition to providing food, healthcare, water and sanitation support to people living in displacement camps, the EU has also contributed to raising awareness on landmines, protection, and currently supports education in emergencies programming to assist children affected by conflict to resume education in safe spaces.
The EU has also responded to a number of natural hazards in Myanmar over the past 2 decades. Most recently, the EU mobilised €85,000 to support families affected by a deadly landslide that left more than 170 people killed in Kachin state. The aid focuses on delivering first aid and psychological support. Cash grants are also provided to families whose breadwinners were either killed or injured in the disaster. Earlier in August 2018, in the aftermath of widespread flooding triggered by heavy monsoon rains, the EU channelled €130,000 in humanitarian aid funding through the Myanmar Red Cross Society. The support addressed the most pressing needs of the worst affected populations through multi-purpose cash grants and distributions of hygiene kits.
Disaster risk reduction is also a priority for EU’s humanitarian assistance, focused on increasing the resilience of the most vulnerable communities facing recurrent natural hazards by bolstering local early warning and response capacities. In line with the EU's international commitments, the European Commission ensures that all its relevant actions lead to the reduction of disaster risks and to the improvement of communities' resources for better preparedness to natural hazards. Since 2010, more than €14 million has been allocated to coastal flood-prone areas and earthquake-prone urban areas.
The European Commission has been active in Myanmar since 1994. It has funded emergency relief programmes to assist victims of both conflict and natural hazards, with total funding in excess of €267 million. Since 2013, a total of €4.65 million have also been provided for emergency education to conflict-affected children, including €2 million in 2019.