Myanmar: Peace talks may bring end to conflict and displacement closer
Displaced woman with her child
in eastern Myanmar’s Kayin State,
Refugees International, 2005
- Country Statistics
- Latest IDP figure:
... Click here for more
- Number of refugees:
- (Originating from the country)
415,343 (UNHCR, as of January 2013)
- Total Population:
- 53.3 million (UNFPA, 30 October 2013, p.107)
Download Asia-Pacific Overview
31 December 2012
Myanmar is undergoing major political reforms and has initiated a series of peace processes, but in 2012 it also continued to experience armed conflict and new inter-communal violence that led to significant internal displacement. As of the end of the year, the country was estimated to be hosting at least 450,000 IDPs.
In western Rakhine state, inter-communal violence broke out in June pitting ethnic Rakhine against ethnic Rohingya and other Muslim minorities, and forcing more than 100,000 people from both communities to flee. The IDPs took shelter in displacement camps in and around the state capital of Sittwe or with host communities. Following a new outbreak of violence in October, a further 36,000 fled, many seeking refuge in the same camps.
By the end of the year, more than 125,000 people were internally displaced in Rakhine state. Of that total, 115,000 were registered as IDPs while more than 10,000 were not. Humanitarian organisations and the government have provided assistance, but the camps are overcrowded and lack access to basic services. Health care, education and livelihood opportunities are also limited, and it was not safe for IDPs to leave the camps. As an indirect result of the violence, several hundred thousand ethnic Rohingya living in the north of the state lost access to the much-needed humanitarian assistance they had been receiving for years until trouble first broke out in June.
In north-eastern Kachin state and the northern part of neighbouring Shan state, fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar military, which began in June 2011, intensified in December 2012. The military reportedly launched airstrikes on the town of Laiza, where KIA has its main base. By the end of the year, more than 75,000 people had been internally displaced. Over 40,000 were living in areas controlled by KIA, to which UN agencies had only limited access, but they also receive some assistance from local organisations.
In the south-east, tensions between the Myanmar army and ethnic non-state armed groups (NSAGs) eased during 2012 when compared with previous years, though there were numerous ceasefire violations in the southern part of Shan state. There were no clashes in Kayah and Mon states and Bago and Tanintharyi regions, with very few isolated incidents between NSAG and Border Guard Force personalities in Kayin state that were quickly contained. As of the end of the year these areas were estimated to be hosting around 250,000 protracted IDPs who had fled their homes to escape armed conflict and human rights violations. Many among them face security risks because of the presence of landmines, and they also lack access to adequate food, clean water, sanitation, durable shelter, health services, education and livelihoods.
Efforts towards a full-fledged peace process continued as the government on either the national or state level signed preliminary ceasefire or peace agreements with the NSAGs. As of the end of the year, KIA was the only group not to have signed such an agreement. The Peace Donor Support Group and the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative were set up in 2012 with the aim of providing assistance to conflict-affected people, including IDPs, and support for the ceasefires and ongoing peace-building efforts.
The government has also initiated a process of political reform. In parliamentary by-elections in April, candidates of the formerly banned National League for Democracy (NLD) won 43 of the 45 seats that were contested. Among the newly elected NLD MPs was the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who also became chair of the lower house’s Committee for Rule of Law and Peace and Stability. The government continued to release political prisoners and liberalise the media, and new legislation and regulations governing demonstrations were also adopted.
In response, several countries and regional bodies including the US, Norway and the EU, have eased their sanctions on Myanmar. A number of high-level officials visited the country in 2012, including President Barack Obama, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos.
In 2013, it will be important to ensure that peace-building efforts are matched by an end to fighting on the ground and that the views of IDPs and a discussion of issues related to internal displacement, such as durable solutions, are included in the peace process. Increased foreign investment and the exploitation of natural resources should adhere to ethical standards, including those set out in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), of which the government was intending to become a signatory.
Myanmar: 89 killed, more than 36,000 people newly displaced in new waves of violence
(16 November 2012)
Since October, at least 89 people have been killed
and more than 36,000 internally displaced
in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine. Reports suggest the new wave of violence was caused by friction between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingyas and members of other Muslim ethnic minorities. The situation remains tense despite curfews
and an increased presence of security forces
Several thousand people fled to host communities
or to already overcrowded IDP camps
near and in the state capital Sittwe, where food, water and shelter
as well as sanitation and health services
are in short supply. An unknown number of people have risked their lives trying to escape by sea to Sittwe, or to other countries, with reports of shipwrecks
, people missing
, a woman giving birth
en route, and fatalities, including children
. Bangladesh has reportedly closed its borders
Humanitarian personnel are carrying out needs assessments
and providing assistance
despite security threats
. Including those already displaced by the first wave of inter-communal violence in June, more than 110’000
people are said to be currently living as IDPs in Rakhine State.
In November 2010 the first national elections since 1990 were held in Myanmar. While the party set up by the previous government and the armed forces retain most legislative and executive power, the elections may nevertheless have opened up a window of opportunity for greater civilian governance and power-sharing. At the same time, recent fighting between opposition non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and government forces in Kayin/Karen, Kachin, and Shan States, which displaced many within eastern Myanmar and into Thailand and China, is a sign that ethnic tensions remain serious and peace elusive.
Since April 2009, armed conflict between the armed forces and NSAGs has intensified, as several NSAGs that had concluded a ceasefire with the government in the 1990s refused to obey government orders to transform into army-led border guard forces. (...)
Download full Overview
19 July 2011
||Displacement continues in context of armed conflicts (19 July 2011) HTML | PDF
Internal Displacement Profile
"Causes, Background and Patterns of Movement","Overview of the causes of displacement in Myanmar"
"IDP Population Figures","IDP Population Figures"
"Physical Security and Integrity","Physical Security and Integrity"
"Basic Necessities of Life","Basic Necessities of Life"
"Property, Livelihoods, Education and Other Economic, Social and Cultural Rights","Property","Livelihoods","Education and Other Economic","Social and Cultural Rights"
"National and International Response","National and international response"
Previous Profile updates
- Key Documents
- Situation of human rights in Myanmar, UN GA, 16 November 2012
- Changing Realities, Poverty and Displacement in South East Burma/Myanmar, The Border Consortium (TBC), 31 October 2012
- Situation of human rights in Myanmar, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, 25 September 2012
- "The Government Could Have Stopped This", Human Rights Watch (HRW), August 2012
- Myanmar: The Politics of Economic Reform, International Crisis Group (ICG), 27 July 2012
- "Untold Miseries" - Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Burma’s Kachin State, HRW, 20 March 2012
- Towards a Burmese spring, Himal South Asian, December 2011
- Myanmar: A New Peace Initiative, International Crisis Group (ICG), 30 November 2011