Myanmar situation

Rohingya refugee Hamida, 26, harvests herbs dressed red
Rohingya refugee Hamida, 26, a mother of four, received a cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas distributed by UNHCR in Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.   © UNHCR/Saikat Mojumder

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23 January 2023
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January 2023
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29 December 2022
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5 December 2022
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1 November 2022
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April - June 2022
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April - June 2022
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Global Appeal 2023

2023 population planning figures 

  • Refugees and asylum-seekers: 1.27 million 

  • IDPs: 1.35 million, 51% women and girls, 49% children* 

  • Refugees and IDP returnees: 80,000  

  • Stateless persons in Myanmar (Rohingya)**: 600,000 

*Demographics based on 2021 annual statistical report. 
**“Stateless persons in Myanmar (Rohingya)” figure includes IDPs who are also reported in the “Refugees and IDP returnees” category. 

  

2023 situation overview  

Violence against civilians and the intensified armed conflict following the events of February 2021 caused tens of thousands of refugees to flee into neighbouring countries and displaced over 982,000 people within Myanmar. Current displacement trends indicate that 1.35 million IDPs may be in urgent need of protection and humanitarian assistance in 2023. Humanitarian actors’ access to the newly displaced has been obtained only incrementally and remains unpredictable. The situation has stalled progress toward voluntary repatriation for refugees. UNHCR has called for comprehensive and regional approaches to solutions for close to 1.1 million refugees from Myanmar, the vast majority being Rohingya from Rakhine state. In response, third countries have committed to step up resettlement and have initiated new complementary pathways.  

In 2023, UNHCR’s focus inside Myanmar will be on responsive and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance, strengthening community-based protection and resilience, and supporting pathways to durable solutions for IDPs and stateless persons, including an estimated 600,000 stateless Rohingya. UNHCR will work with partners to support the creation of conditions conducive to return by promoting the restoration of the rights of Rohingya and implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. Across the region, UNHCR will continue to advocate for expanded and predictable access to displaced populations within and from Myanmar and will engage with community-based organizations to support the delivery of assistance.  

In addition, UNHCR will continue to advocate for safeguarding the right to return for Rohingya refugees and work with the Government of Bangladesh and partners to sustain support to meet the needs of over 900,000 refugees in Bangladesh, including through the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis. UNHCR will broaden the resilience agenda in Bangladesh through the expansion of the Myanmar curriculum to 12,280 children at the pre-primary level, skills development and livelihoods activities via the distribution of production kits to 72,000 households. UNHCR will collaborate with partners to advocate for alternatives to detention and enhanced self-reliance and empowerment for Rohingya in Malaysia and India via community-based initiatives. Region-wide, UNHCR will redouble efforts to facilitate third-country solutions for Rohingya refugees and strengthen resettlement processing capacity while also advocating for scaled-up support for complementary pathways. 

Global Report 2021

2021 Year-end population figures

  • Refugees and asylum seekers: 1.2 million, 25% women and 47% children
  • IDPs: 671,000, 27% women and 49% children
  • New IDPs in 2021 alone: 430,000
  •  IDP returns: 130,000
  • Stateless persons in Myanmar (Rohingya): 600,000 

2021 Situation overview

The situation in Myanmar was characterized by growing violence and insecurity and resulted in significant forced displacement within the country and into neighbouring countries (over 30,000 refugees between 1 February 2021 and 17 January 2022). Some 430,000 people were internally displaced in Myanmar after the military takeover on 1 February, more than doubling the 2020 IDP figure of 370,000. However, some 130,000 IDPs also returned to their places of origin in 2021, leaving a total of 671,000 IDPs at the end of 2021. As a result, humanitarian needs grew exponentially and were further compounded by new waves of COVID-19 and the resultant economic impact. Humanitarian access in many parts of Myanmar was restricted by insecurity, roadblocks and challenges in obtaining access approvals. In this challenging operating environment, UNHCR engaged host communities and local responders as well as partners who played a leading role in assisting displaced populations.

UNHCR reached 44,000 households (including IDPs and stateless persons) with core relief items, distributed $2.6 million in cash assistance to 17,000 people of concern, and delivered emergency shelters to 47,000 people of concern. Meanwhile, legal assistance was vital in addressing housing, land and property concerns. 

In Rakhine state, UNHCR worked to create conditions conducive to the voluntary repatriation of refugees and IDPs, and undertook 95 quick impact projects with UNDP, benefiting more than 20,000 people. UNHCR continued to advocate for the implementation of the 2017 recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. 

Outside Myanmar, UNHCR led efforts to protect and assist Rohingya refugees in the region, including those undertaking dangerous journeys at sea, and engaged with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional actors in pursuit of solutions for Rohingya and other refugees from Myanmar, while also advocating for access to territory and protection. In Bangladesh, COVID-19 measures constrained humanitarian services in the refugee camps and UNHCR adapted its response to ensure continuity of protection and assistance. An inclusive national COVID-19 response resulted in nearly 80% of those eligible among the 890,000 Rohingya refugees receiving a vaccination. UNHCR also piloted a cash assistance programme in Cox’s Bazar town for vulnerable members of the host community who were hit hardest by the pandemic. Inside the camps, UNHCR and partners addressed critical protection issues and responded to fires and the effects of natural disasters. Schooling came to a halt during the height of the pandemic. However, once the situation improved, UNHCR and partners were able to launch a project to introduce the Myanmar curriculum, training teachers in the skills required. UNHCR also expanded work with refugees and partners to reduce environmental degradation and ensure a more environmentally sustainable response. 

In 2021, 19,000 Rohingya refugees were relocated to Bhasan Char, an island where the Government of Bangladesh has made substantial investments to provide a temporary alternative measure for hosting refugees to alleviate overcrowded camp conditions. UNHCR, on behalf of the United Nations, signed a memorandum of understanding that provides a protection and policy framework for the island. UNHCR has also worked with the Government to ensure the voluntariness of relocations and freedom of movement.