Myanmar faces multiple ongoing conflicts between the military and ethnic armed groups, marked by widespread violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, causing substantial humanitarian needs. More than 336,000 people, displaced by conflict, currently live in camps in Kachin, Shan, Rakhine, Chin, and Kayin states, with limited access to basic services. International aid organisations struggle to assist those in need due to the access restrictions in several areas. Recurrent natural hazards also increase the vulnerability of residents in disaster-prone areas.
The UN estimates that over 945,000 people in Myanmar need humanitarian assistance, including those displaced in the conflict-torn states of Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan. This is set to increase due to the 1 February 2021 military coup.
Violence in northern Rakhine, which started in 2017, has forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee into Bangladesh. Around 600,000 stateless Rohingya people remain in the region, of which 126,000 live in camps, lacking basic rights like freedom of movement and access to work since 2012. Rakhine’s restrictions have severely hampered the access of essential humanitarian aid to the area.
Following clashes between the Myanmar and Arakan armies, over 100,000 non-Rohingya people are displaced in Rakhine and Chin states since December 2018. In Kachin, Kayin and Shan states, over 106,000 people are still displaced due to clashes between armed groups and security forces. Limited access severely restricts humanitarian operations, especially in areas beyond government control.
The 2021 military coup has resulted in urgent protection needs. Since the coup, fighting has risen between Ethnic Armed Groups and the Myanmar Armed Forces, causing more displacement. The large Civil Disobedience Movement Protesting the coup has generated economic difficulties and cash shortages.
In 2021, the European Union allocated €20.5 million in humanitarian aid to address the immediate needs of displaced and conflict-affected communities in Myanmar. 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.
Since the military coup of 1 February 2021, the EU has been responding to new and worsened humanitarian needs in the country. The EU has allocated an additional €9 million to provide urgent healthcare, food assistance, and protection services through its partners. The EU is also providing funds to address the growing regional implications of the crisis, as civilians flee to neighbouring countries.
Following the violence in August 2017, which resulted in the forced displacement of more than 740,000 Rohingya from Myanmar into Bangladesh, the EU 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 or displaced by conflict in Kachin and northern Shan states. In addition to providing basic aid to people living in displacement camps, the EU has also contributed to raising awareness of landmines and protection. EU humanitarian aid currently supports education in emergencies programming to assist children affected by conflict to resume education in safe spaces.
The EU has also responded to several natural hazards in Myanmar over the past 2 decades. To support those affected by the flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains in August 2018, the EU channelled €130,000 in humanitarian funding through the Myanmar Red Cross Society. The funding covered multi-purpose cash grants and the distribution of hygiene kits. Additionally, in late May 2017, the EU allocated €500,000 in emergency relief assistance when cyclone Mora struck several areas in the western coast, with the Rakhine state being the hardest hit.
EU humanitarian aid also focuses on increasing the resilience of the most vulnerable communities facing recurrent natural hazards. The EU does this by bolstering local early warning and response capacities. For better disaster preparedness, the European Commission actions aim at reducing disaster risks and improving communities' resources. In this regard, the EU allocated €16.65 million to coastal flood-prone areas and earthquake-prone urban areas since 2010.
The European Commission, through its European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, 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 of over €287 million. Since 2013, a total of €8.65 million has also been provided for emergency education to conflict-affected children, including €2 million in 2021.