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Myanmar: New waves of displacement in Kachin State

Active fighting continues to erupt between belligerent forces in Kachin State in northern Myanmar. Thousands of people here are regularly displaced due to conflict and often in protracted periods of time. It happened again in February, when armed clashes forced 1,549 people from their homes – seeking safety and shelter nearby.

Posted on 22 Mar 2022

As people came on foot to the small village in Kachin seeking safety from fighting in their home area, their neighbours took them in and offered space and shelter. Through the ECHO-funded First Line Emergency Response (FLER) project in Kachin, DRC in Myanmar was able to immediately respond to the crisis and provide emergency aid to the newly displaced. Support was rapidly organised and delivered in collaboration with local partner Alinn Banmaw Local Development Organisation (BLDO) and through help also from other civil society organisations.  

As soon as the displaced families had settled into temporary sites away from the armed clashes, DRC and partners distributed emergency aid assistance. They all received packages with basic hygiene items - soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, drinking cups, shampoo and dignity kits for women and girls – to get by the first phase of their displacement.   

Forced to flee with short notice, most people arrived with only the clothes they were wearing as there was no time to waste and with people mostly escaping on foot. That is when the most basic items are what is needed and where DRC and likeminded organisations step in to help. 

Clashes in Kachin 

These recent clashes in Kachin are just some of many throughout the country, as there has been an escalation in armed confrontations in Myanmar since the military seizure of power in February 2021. The changing power dynamics and new waves of intensified armed conflict have further compounded pre-existing needs and the already dire humanitarian crisis in the country struggling with effects from decades of civil war and ethnic strives.  

Also here in Myanmar are civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict. The people displaced from Moemauk Township in Kachin during February are part of estimated 889,900 internally displaced people across Myanmar (OCHA March 2022 Humanitarian Update) of whom 519,500 people are newly displaced across the country since February 2021.

Covid-19 support 

Myanmar is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of infection is greater in crowded displacement sites with limited access to hygiene facilities or social distancing. For the newly displaced in Kachin, this is a critical concern as conflict is hampering the already limited access to health clinics and basic medical aid. Each displaced household was therefore provided with a COVID-19 prevention kit with masks and sanitiser.  

The emergency response provided in February in Kachin is part of a larger First Line Emergency Response (FLER) programme implemented by DRC and partners through support from European Union Humanitarian Aid in Myanmar.  

The needs for urgent humanitarian assistance in Myanmar continue to increase by the day with deepening poverty and rapidly evolving food insecurity that has now reached record high levels affecting the entire country. It is estimated that 14 million people out of the total population of 54 million are in need of humanitarian assistance (2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview).  

DRC Myanmar and local partners are working to expand its outreach and remain present and committed to providing humanitarian assistance to people in need in Myanmar.

A woman recently displaced by fighting in Kachin receives hygiene, dignity and COVID-19 kit to support her and her family while displaced in a temporary and safe site.

A woman recently displaced by fighting in Kachin receives hygiene, dignity and COVID-19 kit to support her and her family while displaced in a temporary and safe site.

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