Skip to main content

Myanmar: 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (January 2021)

+ 1 more
HCT in Myanmar
+ 1 more
Publication date

Summary of Humanitarian Needs

Context and impact of the crisis

A significant proportion of Myanmar’s population continues to experience severe and deep-rooted humanitarian challenges. Humanitarian organizations estimate that more than 1 million people are currently in need of some form of humanitarian support, due to armed conflict, vulnerability to natural hazards, inter-communal tensions or other factors. The expanding impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the lives of people in humanitarian settings across the country.

More than 336,000 people in Myanmar are internally displaced, of whom a majority are in situations of protracted displacement in Rakhine, Kachin, Kayin and Shan states. Smaller-scale displacement has also taken place in eastern Bago Region. The launch of a National Strategy on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Closure of IDP Camps in November 2019 has provided new opportunities for dialogue around durable solutions, although significant challenges remain, including insecurity and conflict, limited availability of essential services in return or potential resettlement areas, landmine contamination and complex issues around housing, land and property rights.

Overall levels of humanitarian need have increased over the past year due to an expansion of armed conflict in Rakhine and southern Chin, with intense fighting frequently taking place in and around populated areas over the first half of 2020. This conflict has caused significant additional internal displacement since early 2019, with more than 100,000 IDPs reported as of November 2020, according to government and other sources. This rapid increase in new internal displacement has in addition compounded challenges for host communities who are in many cases also directly affected by the conflict itself, including due to growing landmine and unexploded ordnance contamination.

In addition to the above, discrimination and marginalization continue to exacerbate and drive vulnerability, particularly among hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingya in Rakhine State who – more than eight years after inter-communal violence caused widespread internal displacement and more than three years after security operations forced hundreds of thousands of others to flee across the border into Bangladesh – still face significant challenges in accessing basic healthcare, education and livelihoods due to restrictions on freedom of movement, inter-communal tensions and other factors, prolonging reliance on humanitarian assistance. Approximately 130,000 people, of whom the majority are Rohingya, have remained displaced in the central part of Rakhine since 2012, mostly in camps or camp-like settings. More than 860,000 Rohingya refugees – of whom more than 700,000 fled Myanmar since 2017 – remain in Bangladesh.

The situation in the northern part of Shan State remains precarious due to volatile and unpredictable security dynamics which have continued to cause temporary displacement of civilians, albeit at lower levels than seen in Rakhine, and to complicate the return of the estimated 9,700 people in longer-term IDP camps in the area. Despite an absence of largescale clashes in Kachin State since mid-2018, close to 96,000 people remain in IDP camps set up after fighting broke out in 2011, of whom roughly 40,000 are in areas controlled by non-state armed actors. Civilians also continue to be affected by conflict in parts of Kayin State, as well as adjoining areas of Bago Region.

The rapid increase in locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases across the country from mid-August 2020 has further complicated an already challenging humanitarian situation, with Rakhine State emerging as a key epicenter, in addition to Yangon Region which has seen the largest number of cases. As of November, the Ministry of Health and Sports was reporting more than 80,000 cases and 1,750 fatalities across the country. The Government, both at Union and state levels, rapidly implemented a number of measures to contain the spread of the virus, including in humanitarian settings. However, some of these measures have resulted in an extended disruption of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State in particular.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit