In Kachin in northeastern Myanmar, armed confrontations between the Military Armed Forces (MAF) and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAO) forced 580 people to flee and seek safety in churches. Reports have been received of civilians being ordered to evacuate their villages due to warnings of escalation in armed conflict, as well as civilian houses, assets, and livestock being occupied and demolished.
Across Myanmar, almost 1.3 million people are displaced (OCHA September Humanitarian Update), and tensions are rising between the MAF and armed actors across the country. This rise in tension comes at a time when the majority of the country’s population is grappling with food insecurity due to rising food prices and constrained food production, making staples such as rice and oil unaffordable for many.
As part of the First Line Emergency Response (FLER) mechanism in Kachin, DRC and our local partner Alinn BLDO conducted emergency assessments to identify the needs of the 163 households displaced, followed by distribution of family kits, dignity kits, COVID-19 prevention kits, and community kits. Each of the kits provided specific items, such as bedding, mosquito nets, toothbrushes, soap, and clothing to the displaced families who are currently taking shelter in temporary displacement sites. When fleeing from armed clashes, many people don’t have the time to grab all essential items or even any items to carry away on foot. Thereby it’s essential to provide these basic items within the first few days.
DRC also provided essential cash for food to the most vulnerable displaced households, so they can buy basic food items at nearby markets. As access to remote locations for humanitarian agencies remains a major issue, only limited support has been reaching people displaced or affected by conflict. Cash assistance thereby remains one of the most effective forms of assistance in Myanmar, as movement of in-kind assistance such as food is more challenging.
This emergency response is part of a larger FLER mechanism DRC and partners are part of, funded by European Union Humanitarian Aid. The need for emergency response and humanitarian assistance in Myanmar has been rising in the last year, with 974,000 people newly displaced across the country since February 2021 and 14 million people in need of humanitarian assistance as identified in the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview.
DRC Myanmar and local partners remain present and committed to providing humanitarian assistance to people in need in Myanmar. DRC is following up with UNHCR and other agencies in the area for further joint assessments and response for the displaced families, as their villages continue to be occupied by armed actors.