In 2018, UNICEF continued to address the humanitarian needs of crisisaffected and displaced children, women and men - namely across parts of Rakhine, Kachin, Shan states in partnership with the Government of Myanmar and local and international partners.
Specifically, in 2018, UNICEF supported over 86,600 people with sustained access to safe water sources for drinking, cooking and hygiene, and over 78,000 children in conflict areas with emergency education and recreational materials. In addition, over 108,600 children and women were provided with access to health care services (exceeding target); and with UNICEF support, nutrition partners provided community-based infant and young child feeding counselling to over 19,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women in Rakhine State.
Under the leadership of UNICEF as Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) co-lead, with the support of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG CAAC) and the CTFMR members, a renewed impetus was brought to the implementation of the Joint Action Plan to end underage recruitment in Tatmadaw, highlighted by the release of 75 children associated to armed forces.
Due to the generous contribution of donors, in 2018 UNICEF was able to secure US$16.5 million in humanitarian funding (including carry-forward). However, a funding gap of 52 per cent remained which resulted in the suspension of several activities over the course of the year.
SITUATION IN NUMBERS
people in need of humanitarian assistance (2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview - HNO)
children in need of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine (2018 HNO)
Children in need of humanitarian assistance in Kachin and Shan (2018 HNO)
UNICEF Myanmar HAC Appeal 2018
Funds Received 2018
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
In the northern townships of Rakhine State, tensions are still prevalent with fear and concern of renewed violence a pervasive sentiment among all people. Despite a relative improvement in the security situation as compared to 2017, in 2018 Rohingya communities in all areas of Rakhine State continue lack freedom of movement, which when coupled with the lack of access by humanitarian actors, means access to services is extremely limited. Despite the complicated administrative procedures for travel authorizations, agencies increased access throughout central Rakhine and to urban areas of Maungdaw District—comprised of Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships—however access to rural areas remained limited. Through the tripartite agreement(Memorandum of Understanding – MoU) between the government, UNHCR and UNDP, assessments in 35 areas were completed and show that populations of all ethnicities are living precariously with limited access to livelihoods and services. In late 2018, UNICEF created a Rakhine-specific response plan detailing activities and targets for 2019.
In central Rakhine, the conditions in the camps changed very little in 2018 and remain overcrowded and under-resourced. The camps, now in existence for six years, are extremely vulnerable to the harsh weather, flooding, and require constant upkeep to maintain at the most basic level. The government held two meetings in 2018 focused on a new national strategy for camp closure, however this process is still under consultation. The actions taken by the government thus far involve the construction of single family shelters in or adjacent to current IDP camps and do not address any of the underlying issues of security, freedom of movement, or access to services. As a result, IDPs are still wholly reliant on humanitarian agencies for survival. Protection incidents in the camps appear to be increasing and children are at increasing risk of being neglected or abused. The long-term psychosocial damaged caused by living in these camp conditions is a grave concern.
In 2018, an estimated 15,000 people left Rakhine State— some for Bangladesh and others by boat headed to Malaysia or other locations. In late 2018, the situation in Rakhine State was further complicated by an intensification of the conflict between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army (ethnic Rakhine insurgents). This conflict is expected to continue in 2019 causing displacement of Rakhine people who may need humanitarian assistance and potentially impacting people in neighbouring Chin State as well.
Kachin and Shan
Conflict in Kachin and northern Shan States continue to put civilians in harm’s way. In Kachin over 97,000 people remain displaced across 140 camps or camp-like settings, with children making up around 46 percent of this population. Although children in the IDP camps do have access to local schools, Kachin has the highest rate of school dropouts in the country. Children affected by the conflict are exposed to severe protection risks, including trafficking, separation from primary caregivers, early/forced marriages, and negative coping mechanisms, including drug abuse. Limited access by international staff and agencies—particularly to non-government controlled areas—makes provision of adequate services—particularly protection—virtually impossible.
Children are also exposed to the risks of landmines. In 2018, UNICEF and partners documented 264 casualties (38 percent were women and children) due to landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the country. Compared to the previous years, incidents in Kachin are on rise. By November, the number of casualties (113 including 12 deaths) in Kachin reached 149 percent of the 2017 caseload. Currently, there is no demining taking place in Myanmar. Similar challenges are seen in northern Shan and Kayin States, with over 8,800 and 10,300 people remaining displaced respectively.
Other Areas of Interest
Not to be forgotten are the humanitarian impacts of fighting in Kayin and Chin states. In Chin, small displacements, generally due to fighting between the Arakan Army and Government of Myanmar resulted in displacement of 384 people.
In Kayin, over 10,000 IDPs remain in camps as a result of fighting in previous years. However, with little action to address security, it is likely that these families will remain displaced and in need of support in 2019.
In September 2018, an Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IIFFM) on Myanmar, established by the Human Rights Council, issued a report that described serious violations of human rights law as well as international humanitarian law in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. This included the systematic targeting of civilians, including women and children. The report concluded that many violations amount to the gravest crimes under international law. The Government of Myanmar objected to the formation of the IIFFM and does not accept the findings. UNICEF, with the Humanitarian Country Team and others, is reviewing the recommendations of the IIFFMM and UNICEF has increased internal due diligence for activities in Rakhine State to ensure activities ‘do no harm’.