Myanmar: 3 million in need of humanitarian aid, ‘world is watching’ UN relief chief warns generals 

8 November 2021

Growing conflict, insecurity, COVID-19, and a failing economy, has rendered some three million Burmese in in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance across Myanmar, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator said on Monday.  

 

“The humanitarian situation in Myanmar is deteriorating”, Martin Griffiths said in a statement, adding that “without an end to violence and a peaceful resolution of Myanmar’s crisis, this number will only rise”. 

Growing displacement  

Since a military takeover on 1 February ousted the democratically elected Government, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes due to violent crackdowns across the country. 

At the same time, 223,000 Burmese remain internally displaced, including 165,000 in the country’s southeast – adding to those already displaced in Rakhine, Chin, Shan and Kachin states prior to the takeover. 

Long-term displacement remains unresolved, with 144,000 Rohingya people still confined to camps and camp-like settings in Rakhine, many since their displacement in 2012, and more than 105,000 people displaced in Kachin and Shan, many for years”, said the humanitarian affairs chief. 

I am also increasingly concerned about reports of rising levels of food insecurity in and around urban areas, including in Yangon and Mandalay.” 

Hostilities escalating  

In recent weeks, Mr. Griffiths noted that the situation in the northwest has become “extremely concerning”, with an escalation in hostilities between the Myanmar Armed Forces, the Chinland Defence Force in Chin state and the People’s Defence Forces in Magway and Sagaing regions.  

“More than 37,000 people, including women and children, have been newly displaced, and more than 160 homes have been burned, including churches and the offices of a humanitarian organization”, he detailed.  

Support humanitarian efforts  

Underscoring that attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian workers and facilities, are “clearly prohibited under international humanitarian law”, he stressed that they must “stop immediately”.             

Humanitarian workers have reached more than 1.67 million people in Myanmar with food, cash and nutrition assistance this year alone and although they are ready to do more, remain barred from access and extra funding is proving hard to come by.  

Access to many people in desperate need across the country remains extremely limited due to bureaucratic impediments put in place by the armed forces”, Mr. Griffiths explained. 

He called on the Myanmar armed forces and all parties to “facilitate safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access” and on the international community to “fund the response”.  

Secure dignity 

Less than half of the $385 million required under the Humanitarian Response Plan and Interim Emergency Response Plan launched after the armed forces’ takeover has been received.  

The people of Myanmar need our help to ensure that their basic rights are upheld and they can live with dignity”, said the Emergency Relief Coordinator.  

Urging all parties to “fully respect their obligations” under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and allow humanitarian assistance to be provided, including to those being forced to flee violence, Mr. Griffiths spelled out: “The world is watching”.  

Restore democracy 

Meanwhile, marking one year since the people of Myanmar voted in by a landslide, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, independent UN Special Rapporteur, Tom Andrews, described the election as having been “stolen by a junta systematically violating rights”. 

To help end the crisis, he urged the Security Council’s closed-door discussion on Monday to dramatically increase aid and cut “junta access to revenue and weapons”. 

Mr. Andrews and all Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. He holds an honorary position and is not paid for his work. 

A homeless family in Yangon in Myanmar has few social support structures it can call on.
ILO Photo/Marcel Crozet
A homeless family in Yangon in Myanmar has few social support structures it can call on.

 

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