Operation: Opération: Myanmar



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
97,828 people of concern received shelter support
26,148 households received essential core relief items
3,452 persons at heightened risk supported with cash and non-cash assistance
76 peaceful-co-existence projects implemented 
94% of displacement camps/sites were equipped with a camp manager/ administrator
2021 planning figures
55,000 individuals will access emergency or transitional shelters
19,400 households will receive emergency core relief items
2,300 people at heightened risk will be given a one-time multi-purpose cash assistance or in-kind support in Kachin and the northern Shan States
270 peaceful co-existence projects will be implemented in areas of potential refugee or IDP return areas 

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 829,219
2019 773,652
2018 866,718


[["IDPs",370320],["Returned IDPs",2992],["Returned refugees",5],["Stateless",455902]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[56.212578921,49.16219959,46.11656044,38.7240004,52.226529299999996,62.61234165],"expenditure":[17.12864861,17.537167259999997,16.688276039999998,19.90678032,29.70754714,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[28.97865689,17.78248897,9.7805165,6.97342093,5.333631,5.678777719999999],"p2":[2.59311248,7.70424298,25.05137031,22.23016208,27.17895006,26.985893469999997],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[24.640809551,23.67546764,11.28467363,9.52041739,19.713948239999997,29.94767046]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[3.75516825,3.82923806,2.24739244,1.69566278,1.4811448500000002,null],"p2":[2.2372177,3.1710285099999997,11.055802609999999,13.08796975,14.07911223,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[11.13626266,10.53690069,3.38508099,5.12314779,14.147290060000001,null]}
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  • 2014
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  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

The protection and solutions environment in Myanmar remained challenging throughout 2020, further exacerbated by COVID-19, which placed forcibly displaced populations at heightened risk, with the delivery of critical protection services and assistance severely restricted.

Progress in addressing the root cause of the crisis in Rakhine State was limited, despite some expansion of UNDP and UNHCR activities to create conditions for the return of Rohingya refugees. Few prospects for sustainable and dignified solutions to displacement for IDP populations emerged, while hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingya continued to reside across the state with little progress achieved in addressing fundamental issues of freedom of movement, access to livelihoods, quality healthcare, education services and obtaining citizenship. This was compounded by sustained and intensification of conflict between the Myanmar Armed Forces and the Arakan Army throughout the year, resulting in civilian casualties, displacement, and increased humanitarian needs.

In the North-East, while small-scale solutions, including return, resettlement, and local integration, emerged for around 2,100 IDPs, another 104,475 IDPs remained in a situation of protracted displacement.

In the South-East, despite no returns from Thailand taking place during the year through the Facilitated Voluntary Return programme, due to COVID-19, UNHCR focused efforts on improving conditions for eventual IDP and refugee returns.

Population trends

At the end of 2020, the estimated population of concern to UNHCR in Myanmar stood at 829,214, including 600,000 stateless Rohingya in Rakhine State, and 370,320 IDPs in Rakhine (over 144,000 of whom were stateless Rohingya), Kachin, northern Shan, and South-East Myanmar.

In the north east, as of December 2020, a total of 104,475 IDPs are hosted within Kachin and northern Shan states, representing a 2.5% decrease in the number of IDPs compared to December 2019. The relative calm and stability seen in Kachin over the year, paired with the emergence of small-scale solutions for some 2,100 IDPs in the northeast, contributed to this decline.

Due to COVID-19, no refugees returned through the Facilitated Voluntary Return programme in 2020. Meanwhile, 15,568 remain internally displaced in the South-East region, around a third more compared to the end of 2019.

The operational environment as well as the population figures in Rakhine remain challenging, since the August 2017 violence in Rakhine State and resulting displacement of over 700,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh. An estimated 600,000 stateless Rohingya now remain in Rakhine State, including 144,098 who are internally displaced. In addition, Government figures estimate that around 92,000 other individuals were displaced in Rakhine as a result of the ongoing conflict between the Myanmar Armed Forces and Arakan Army. 

Key achievements

  • UNHCR implemented 76 community-based infrastructure projects in support of persons at heightened risk, with goal of building peaceful co-existence among the various communities and creating conditions for the return of refugees and IDPs. The projects benefitted over 75,000 individuals. The community-based projects include solar light installation, road construction, rehabilitation of water points, school construction and livelihood projects.
  • UNHCR maintained its responsibilities within the inter-agency humanitarian response for IDPs in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, assuming both coordination and operational delivery roles in the areas of protection, shelter, camp coordination and camp management, and non-food items, resulting in non-food item support for 26,148 households, provision of emergency shelter support for 89,178 individuals, and shelter construction/ rehabilitation and transitional shelter support for 8,708 individuals.
  • Among major contributions to Myanmar in an effort to bolster the national COVID-19 response and protect vulnerable persons, were the donation of 60,000 COVID-19 test kits, over 635,000 personal protective equipment supplies, four WHO-sanctioned COVID-19 commodity packages and support to over 400 quarantine sites nationwide.   

Unmet needs

A funding shortfall of US $20.6 million (40%), compounded by COVID-19 and access constraints, limited shelter assistance to IDPs, leaving a gap of 6,669 shelter units in Kachin and northern Shan states and some 8,000 families in need of shelter construction or rehabilitation in central Rakhine State. While 30 peaceful co-existence activities were undertaken in Facilitated Voluntary Return areas, more funding is required to expand community-based programmes to spontaneous return areas.
The underlying protection needs of stateless Rohingya in Rakhine State; freedom of movement, access to services and livelihood opportunities, and a pathway to citizenship remained unfulfilled.   

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

Flexible funding received in 2020 which amounted to USD 7.2 million allowed UNHCR to bolster the Government of Myanmar’s national response to COVID-19, for example through the donation of 60,000 COVID-19 test kits and support equipping 400 government-run quarantine facilities with non-medical items such as sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene items, and mosquito nets, among others.   

Working environment

An overall deterioration of the protection environment and limited prospects for solutions for people of concern to UNHCR throughout Myanmar in recent years, and more critically since mid-2017, remains of concern.
In south-east Myanmar, with limited progress in moving the peace process forward, a large-scale return of refugees from Thailand is not foreseen in the near future. However, small-scale facilitated returns and spontaneous returns are likely to continue.
In Chin State, interest for refugee returns from Malaysia and India will remain limited.
Unless meaningful progress in the peace negotiations takes place, new displacement will continue to affect Kachin and northern Shan States. While continued violence will preclude large-scale returns, opportunities for small scale solutions, mostly self-initiated by IDPs and civil society organizations, will emerge.
In Rakhine State, the overall security environment will remain precarious, which is expected to lead to further internal displacement, exacerbate pre-existing protection risks for the Rohingya community and further delay the repatriation prospects for refugees in Bangladesh. In June 2019, the Government of Myanmar, UNHCR and UNDP extended the tripartite agreement aimed at supporting the Government’s efforts in creating conditions for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh for an additional year. Nonetheless, in a context of increased instability, the overall protection environment for Rohingya communities remaining in Rakhine State is not expected to improve, and as such voluntary refugee returns from Bangladesh are unlikely.
In 2020, UNHCR will continue strengthening its collaboration with actors engaged in early recovery and development, including UNDP, to jointly contribute to creating conditions conducive to solutions to displacement and addressing root causes of statelessness, in close consultation with the Government of Myanmar, communities and specialized UN Agencies.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Maintaining high outputs on protection monitoring and analysis to address specific protection risks and conduct evidence-based advocacy;
  • Responding to prevailing humanitarian needs in IDP camps and beyond through coordination and robust operational delivery in the Agency’s core areas of responsibility – protection, shelter, NFI and CCCM;
  • Strengthening data collection on new and protracted displacement, needs and protection risks, pursuing engagement with key actors in protection advocacy and operational response and increasing empowerment of IDPs to realize potential for solutions;
  • Contributing to confidence-building measures through peaceful coexistence initiatives benefiting all communities;
  • Providing capacity-building and technical support to the Government, communities and other stakeholders to create conditions for sustainable solutions to internal displacement in Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan and to address the situation of statelessness;
  • Providing technical support and advice to the Government to ensure measures for the return of refugees to Rakhine, Chin and south-east Myanmar meet international standards;
  • In the south-east, facilitate the implementation of the Thai-Myanmar Border Solutions Strategy, working with the respective governments to expedite pre-nationality verification, as well as activities related to access to civil documentation; physical safety and security; housing and land and property (HLP), livelihoods and basic services for returnees.
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