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2014 UNHCR country operations profile - Myanmar

| Overview |

Working environment

  • In Myanmar, inter-communal tension remains high with almost 140,000 people still displaced in Rakhine State. The fragile protection environment and efforts to promote coexistence and reconciliation will need significant support in the year ahead. UNHCR will work in close collaboration with the UN Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to achieve durable solutions.

  • Over 800,000 persons are estimated to be without citizenship in the northern part of Rakhine State. In addition, the majority of the internally displaced people (IDPs) are also believed to be without citizenship. UNHCR is advocating for steps to address the obstacles to citizenship.

  • An agreement to reduce hostilities in Kachin State between the Government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has potentially opened the way for further peace efforts. Some 100,000 people are displaced. International humanitarian organizations have direct access to IDPs in government-controlled areas and local partners have played a vital role in ensuring that humanitarian assistance reaches IDPs in other areas. UNHCR will work within the UN inter-agency response, undertaking protection activities and assistance within its cluster remit. UNHCR will also support the HCT's promotion of durable solutions.

  • It is estimated that over 230,000 IDPs remain displaced in the south-east of Myanmar, in areas where UNHCR is operating. Engagement by the Government and other parties to find solutions for IDPs has been growing. UNHCR's main focus in the south-east will be to be prepared for the potential return of refugees from Thailand; however at the end of 2013, conditions are not yet conducive for return. The Office will monitor spontaneous returns and continue to prepare for eventual returns, in consultation with the Myanmar authorities and with UNHCR Thailand, which maintains contact with the Thai authorities and refugees along the border. An estimated 128,000 refugees live in temporary sites along the Thai-Myanmar border.

People of concern

The main groups of people of concern to UNHCR in Myanmar planned for in 2014 are individuals without citizenship and people displaced by conflict and inter-communal tensions. They comprise: nearly half a million IDPs presently located in Rakhine State, Kachin State, Shan State and in south-eastern Myanmar; and over 800,000 individuals estimated to be without citizenship in northern Rakhine State (probably a higher figure nationwide). The first national census in 31 years is being planned for in 2014, which should provide important additional information.

Planning figures

UNHCR 2014 planning figures for Myanmar
TYPE OF POPULATION ORIGIN Dec 2013 Dec 2014 Dec 2015
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total 1,340,000 415,000 1,500,000 475,000 1,751,000 601,000
Note: The figures provided for returnees for both 2014 and 2015 are solely for the purpose of contingency planning, should voluntary return conditions improve. At present, conditions are not considered favourable for voluntary return. While UNHCR needs to make preparations in case this situation should change, there is no plan in place, nor has the Office promoted return so far.
Returnee arrivals during year (ex-refugees) Various - - - - 51,000 51,000
Internally displaced Various 490,000 215,000 500,000 250,000 400,000 200,000
Returnee arrivals during year (ex-IDPs) Myanmar - - - - 100,000 100,000
Stateless people Myanmar 850,000 200,000 1,000,000 225,000 1,200,000 250,000

| Response |

Needs and strategies

UNHCR has been part of the wider humanitarian response for the needs of displaced people in Kachin State and in Rakhine State and is coordinating the protection sector and the shelter, non-food item (NFI) and camp coordination and camp management cluster for both situations. Within the inter-agency framework, response plans for the Kachin and Rakhine situations were developed in 2012 and 2013. Ongoing support in the areas of basic needs and essential services will continue to be needed in 2014. Shelter and NFI needs have largely been addressed in Rakhine State in 2013, but replenishment and maintainance will be required, within the framework of community-based camp management. UNHCR's focus in 2014 will be to strengthen protection mechanisms, including through community-based protection. Preparations for durable solutions are likely to begin in Kachin, given the recent positive developments around the peace talks. In Rakhine, 2014 will be a critical year when concerted efforts should be made for confidence-building and coexistence measures towards eventual durable solutions.

| Implementation |

Coordination

UNHCR's main government partner in Myanmar will continue to be the Ministry of Immigration and Population and the Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs.

UNHCR is the protection sector lead and cluster lead for shelter, non-food items and camp coordination and camp management within the UN inter-agency response for Kachine and Rakhine IDP situations. The Office actively participates in inter-agency coordination within the Humanitarian Country Team. UNHCR is focused primarily on international protection issues throughout Myanmar.

UNHCR has also been enhancing coordination mechanisms for durable solutions in south-eastern border areas, in partnership with development actors, in preparation for the eventual return of IDPs and refugees.

2014 UNHCR partners in Myanmar
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Immigration and Population (Immigration and National Registration Department)
NGOs: Action Contre La Faim, Bridge Asia Japan, Community and Family Services International, Danish Refugee Council, Kachin Baptist Convention - Emergency Relief Committee, Karuna Banmaw Social Services, Karuna Myanmar Social Services Loikaw, Karuna Myanmar Social Services Myitkyina, Malteser Hilfsdienst Germany, Marie Stopes International, Myanmar Red Cross Society, Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale, Save the Children, Shalom (Nyein) Foundation, The Lutheran World Federation
Others: UNOPS
Operational partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
NGOs: CARE, Médecins sans Frontières - Netherlands, Médecins sans Frontières - Switzerland, Norwegian Refugee Council, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, World Vision

| Financial information |

Since 2009, the budget for the Myanmar operation has increased six-fold, with the largest increase in 2012 in the wake of the Rakhine IDP emergency. Since 2009, additional resources have been allocated to assist the population without citizenship in northern Rakhine State. In 2011, more funds were needed in support of victims of two natural disasters in Rakhine State and newly displaced people in Kachin State. The expansion of UNHCR's area of coverage in the south-east in the past two years has also required an increased budget which reached USD 68.5 million in 2013 (revised budget as of 30 June 2013). In 2014, the comprensive needs are estimated at USD 68.1 million. There will be a need to sustain an adequate budget level for the ongoing IDP response in Rakhine and Kachin States, additional needs in northern Shan State, and expanding activities in the south-east of the country.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105


UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Myanmar
Style of Address The UNHCR Representative in Myanmar
Street Address No 287, Pyay Road, Myaynigone, Sanchaung Township, Yangon, Myanmar
Mailing Address P.O. Box 1485, Yangon, Myanmar
Telephone 95 1 524 022
Facsimile 95 1 524 031
Email myaya@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 6.3
Working Hours
Monday:8:30 - 17:00
Tuesday:8:30 - 17:00
Wednesday:8:30 - 17:00
Thursday:8:30 - 17:00
Friday:8:30 - 17:00
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2014, New Year's day
14 April 2014, Water Festival
15 April 2014, Water Festival
16 April 2014, Water Festival
17 April 2014, Myanmar New Year Day
11 July 2014, Full Moon Day of Waso
29 July 2014, Eid Al Fitr
06 October 2014, Eid - El Adha
08 October 2014, Full moon Day of Thadinkyut
25 December 2014, Christmas Day
The UNHCR Field Office in Maungdaw
Style of Address The UNHCR Head of Field Office at Maungdaw
Street Address UNHCR Field Office, Maungdaw, 3 Miles, Maungdaw, Myanmar
Mailing Address c/o UNHCR Yangon, P.O. Box 1485, Yangon, Myanmar
Telephone 95 9 8613716
Facsimile 95 1 524031
Email myama@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 6.3
Working Hours
Monday:8:30 - 17:00
Tuesday:8:30 - 17:00
Wednesday:8:30 - 17:00
Thursday:8:30 - 17:00
Friday:8:30 - 17:00
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2014, New Year's day
14 April 2014, Water Festival
15 April 2014, Water Festival
16 April 2014, Water Festival
17 April 2014, Myanmar New Year Day
11 July 2014, Full Moon Day of Waso
29 July 2014, Eid Al Fitr
06 October 2014, Eid - El Adha
08 October 2014, Full moon Day of Thadinkyut
25 December 2014, Christmas Day
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Statistical Snapshot*
* As at January 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Myanmar [1]
Refugees [2] 0
Asylum Seekers [3] 0
Returned Refugees [4] 3,009
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5]
More info 372,000
IDP figure in Myanmar includes 35,000 people who are in an IDP-like situation.
Returned IDPs [6] 27,383
Stateless Persons [7] 810,000
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 1,212,392
Originating from Myanmar [1]
Refugees [2] 479,608
Asylum Seekers [3] 45,038
Returned Refugees [4] 3,009
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5]
More info 372,000
IDP figure in Myanmar includes 35,000 people who are in an IDP-like situation.
Returned IDPs [6] 27,383
Various [8] 216
Total Population of Concern 927,254

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Returnees in Myanmar

During the early 1990s, more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh, citing human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government. In exile, refugees received shelter and assistance in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh. More than 230,000 of the Rohingya Muslims have returned since 1992, but about 22,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh. To promote stability in returnee communities in Myanmar and to help this group of re-integrate into their country, UNHCR and its partner agencies provide monitors to insure the protection and safety of the returnees as well as vocational training, income generation schemes, adult literacy programs and primary education.

Returnees in Myanmar

UNHCR Relief Items Pour into Myanmar

With eight relief flights and an earlier truck convoy from nearby Thailand, UNHCR had by June 6, 2008 moved 430 tonnes of shelter and basic household supplies into Myanmar to help as many as 130,000 victims of Cyclone Nargis. The aid includes plastic sheeting, plastic rolls, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen sets. Once the aid arrives in the country it is quickly distributed.

On the outskirts of the city of Yangon – which was also hit by the cyclone – and in the Irrawady delta, some families have been erecting temporary shelters made out of palm leaf thatching. But they desperately need plastic sheeting to keep out the monsoon rains.

Posted on 12 June 2008

UNHCR Relief Items Pour into Myanmar

Myanmar Cyclone Victims Still Need Aid

With eight relief flights and an earlier truck convoy from nearby Thailand, UNHCR had by June 6, 2008 moved 430 tonnes of shelter and basic household supplies into Myanmar to help as many as 130,000 victims of Cyclone Nargis. The aid includes plastic sheeting, plastic rolls, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen sets. Once the aid arrives in the country it is quickly distributed.

On the outskirts of the city of Yangon – which was also hit by the cyclone – and in the Irrawady delta, some families have been erecting temporary shelters made out of palm leaf thatching. But they desperately need plastic sheeting to keep out the monsoon rains.

Posted on 12 June 2008

Myanmar Cyclone Victims Still Need Aid

Refugees from Myanmar: Ethnic Karens Seek Shelter

Over 2,000 refugees from Myanmar have crossed the border into Thailand in recent months. Most claim to be fleeing renewed conflict and human rights abuses in Kayin state, Myanmar. The mainly ethnic Karen refugees say their houses and villages have been burned and civilians killed. Many were weak upon arrival, suffering from illnesses such as malaria, after a long, dangerous journey to the camps through heavily mined areas. The refugees have been arriving at government-run camps, mainly in the Mae Hong Son area in northern Thailand.

UNHCR is working with the Thai government and non-governmental organisations to ensure the new arrivals are admitted to the camps and provided with adequate shelter and protection. Shelter has been a major issue as the capacity in many refugee camps has been overwhelmed. In a breakthrough in mid-May, Thai authorities agreed to build proper houses for the new arrivals.

There are currently 140,000 refugees from Myanmar living in nine border camps in Thailand, many of them have been there for up to 20 years.

Refugees from Myanmar: Ethnic Karens Seek Shelter

Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

In 1991, some 250,000 refugees from Myanmar's Northern Rakhine state fled by boat and on foot to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they were sheltered in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazar district. While the majority of these refugees eventually returned home, some 20,500 people – mostly Rohingya, a Muslim minority ethnic group – remain in two of the original camps.

Conditions in these camps are below standard, with many refugees living in overcrowded shelters in desperate need of repair. Frequent heavy rains inundate the area, further damaging shelters and spreading disease. Harassment and discrimination add to the plight of the Rohingya refugees, the majority of whom say that they do not want to return home until there is peace and democracy in Myanmar.

The UNHCR has expanded its routine protection monitoring in Cox's Bazar to address the problems of sexual and gender-based violence as well as trafficking of women and children. The UN refugee agency continues to work with governments, other UN agencies and non-governmental organisations to try and find a durable solution for the Rohingya refugees.

Posted on 27 November 2006

Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Cyclone Devastation in Myanmar

On 2/3 May, Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar, killing thousands of people and leaving more than 1 million homeless. As a rapid initial response to the crisis, the UNHCR office in Yangon purchased US$50,000 of plastic sheeting and canned food for distribution to cyclone victims.

Since then, the UN refugee agency – in the first overland convoy of aid – trucked in 22 tonnes of tents and plastic sheets from stocks in north-western Thailand. In addition, more than 100 tonnes of plastic tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets and mosquito nets are being airlifted in from UNHCR's regional stockpile in Dubai.

Although the UNHCR is not usually involved in natural disaster relief operations, it has responded to the cyclone crisis because of the scale of the devastation, the urgent needs of the victims, and the proximity of its emergency relief supplies to Myanmar.

Posted on 15 May 2008

Cyclone Devastation in Myanmar

Climate change and displacement

In the past few years, millions of people have been displaced by natural disasters, most of which are considered to be the direct result of climate change. Sudden weather events, such as Myanmar's Cyclone Nargis in 2008, widespread flooding in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camps in 2006 and the drought that hit Ethiopia in the 1980s, can leave huge numbers of people traumatized and without access to shelter, clean water and basic supplies.

The international community has entrusted UNHCR with responsibility for protecting and assisting people who are forcibly displaced and who cannot return safely home. Although the majority of people displaced by climate change will remain within their own borders, where states have clearly defined responsibilities, additional support may be required.

When called upon to intervene, UNHCR can deploy emergency teams and provide concrete support in terms of registration, documentation, family reunification and the provision of shelter, basic hygiene and nutrition.

Among those who are displaced across borders as a result of climate change, some will be refugees while others may not meet the definition. Nevertheless, many may be in need of protection and assistance.

Climate change and displacement

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding across Myanmar's Rakhine state, where some 115,000 people are desperately in need of aid after being displaced during two waves of inter-communal violence in June and October 2012. The displaced, most of them ethnic Rohingya, have sought shelter in temporary relief camps and others remain scattered across the state, living under tight security in their destroyed villages. Conditions are harsh: the camps are overcrowded and some lack even the most basic of sanitation facilities while many of the villages are totally destroyed and running low on water. In one village, more than 32 families were living cheek-by-jowl in just two large tents. The children have no access to education and the newborn and elderly are in a very vulnerable position due to a lack of medical facilities. UNHCR is distributing relief supplies and working with the authorities and partners to improve camp conditions, but international assistance is required.

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

Living Silence: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

"Living Silence" is a photographic exhibition of one of the world's most enduring refugee crises, by award-winning photographer Saiful Huq Omi.

Bangladesh has hosted refugees for over three decades. Today, 28,000 refugees from Myanmar known as the Rohingya - an ethnic, religious and linguistic minority people - are living in the two official refugee camps in the south-east of Bangladesh. Over half of them are children, many of whom have only ever experienced life in the camps. It is estimated that there are a further 200,000 Rohingya living outside the camps, unable to return to Myanmar where they fear persecution and exploitation.

Like refugees around the world, the Rohingya refugees are survivors. They are living in transience, waiting for the day they can go home in safety and in dignity. Until then, like any other people, they aspire to live a life free from violence and exploitation.

Together with other UN agencies and NGOs, UNHCR provides shelter, water, primary education and health care to refugees from Myanmar in the Nayapara and Kutupalong camps. UNHCR is also working with governments around the world to resettle some of the most vulnerable.

Living Silence: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Myanmar: Olympic Spirit AlivePlay video

Myanmar: Olympic Spirit Alive

The International Olympic Committee and Samsung recently presented sports kits to 20 schools in south-east Myanmar. The lucky children were happy to show off their skills.

By Boat to SafetyPlay video

By Boat to Safety

The recent resurgence in inter-communal violence in western Myanmar, forced hundreds of people to sail to safety on their fishing boats.
Aid To Myanmar Cyclone VictimsPlay video

Aid To Myanmar Cyclone Victims

UNHCR has sent in almost 120 tonnes of aid to help more than 10,000 victims in Myanmar of Cyclone Nargis.
Angelina Jolie visits refugees in ThailandPlay video

Angelina Jolie visits refugees in Thailand

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits Karenni refugees in northern Thailand.