This report covers the period January to December 2021 and outlines TBC’s progress based on the organisation’s Strategic Directions for Thailand and Myanmar 2020–2022.
The Myanmar Armed Forces staged a coup on 1st of February, citing false claims of electoral fraud. following the coup nationwide protests were held in opposition to the unconstitutional seizure of power by the SAC. Over 1,300 people were killed by the military in its crackdown against protests and conflict between both EAOs and PDFs against the military increased. The National Unity Government was formed in opposition to SAC and has played a major role in opposition to SAC in the international arena. In southeastern Myanmar indiscriminate artillery attacks against civilians in northern Karen and Kayah States were the primary cause of displacement for 200,000 people by the year’s end. The humanitarian situation inside Myanmar became increasingly dire, with few avenues for positive developments. TBC provided an emergency response where over 200,000 civilians benefitted from access to multi-sectoral humanitarian aid to alleviate basic needs. The coup, and subsequent breakdown in central government exacerbated the threats of COVID-19 and facilitated a failing vaccine drive and inadequate healthcare support to those with COVID-19. By the end of the year 16,000 people had died from COVID-19. The coup also devastated Myanmar’s economy and banking system and vastly increased the number of people living in poverty.
In Thailand, outbreaks of COVID-19 occurred in eight refugee camps. Coronavirus Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) protocols continued to be implemented throughout the year and has led to largely remote communications with camps. Despite these challenges food security remained strong and stable in all camps. Indeed, the humanitarian needs of encamped refugees of food, cooking fuel and shelter were met, while TBC also facilitated key activities in nutrition, shelter and camp governance. Due to COVID-19 and the military coup, the UNHCR-facilitated voluntarily repatriation, postponed in 2020, as well as TBC’s assistance for return preparedness, remained on hold. TBC also provided emergency humanitarian support to those displaced from fighting in Myanmar and who sought refuge in Thailand. Since February 2021, approximately 16,000 refugees crossed into Thailand to flee fighting and seek protection. They were disallowed entry to the established refugee camps and the majority of these new refugees returned to Myanmar, mostly under duress, with 3,200 still in Thailand in Temporary Safety Areas at the year’s end. At the end of December 4,800 officially remained in Temporary Safety areas. Meanwhile, 80,982 people remained in the nine camps in Thailand of whom, during the year, 410 were resettled to third countries and 1,313 children were born in the camps.