The protection environment throughout Myanmar, and prospects of solutions for people of concern to UNHCR, will continue to face challenges. This is despite the country’s attempts at moving forward with the peace process, reforming laws and policies, strengthening human rights and protecting civilians, addressing underlying ethnic minority grievances and sustainably resolving the Rakhine crisis.
In south-east Myanmar, the facilitated return of a small number of refugees from Thailand, instead of large-scale returns, is expected, as is new momentum for implementation of a cross-border multi-solutions Strategy.
In the north-east, despite peace negotiations, continued insecurity will result in new displacement in Kachin and northern Shan States. While this precludes large-scale IDP returns, small scale solutions, mostly self-initiated and driven by IDPs and civil society organizations, will remain the trend. UNHCR will also work towards supporting the Government of Myanmar in its approaches to the National Strategy on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Closure of IDP Camps.
In Rakhine State, the overall security environment will remain precarious, with limited prospects for a political solution. This will lead to further internal displacement of Rakhine and other ethnic minorities, and will exacerbate pre-existing protection risks for the estimated 600,000 stateless Rohingya. Progress on implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State will be necessary to improve access to rights and freedom of movement for Rohingya in Rakhine State, and the prospects for return of Rohingya IDPs and refugees.
In June 2020, the Government of Myanmar, UNHCR and UNDP extended their tripartite agreement for an additional year. The agreement aims to support the Government’s efforts in creating conditions for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees from Bangladesh.
In 2021, UNHCR will intensify its efforts to expand its strategic partnerships with the Government of Myanmar, as well as humanitarian, development and peace-building actors, seizing momentum and opportunities created by the November 2020 general elections.
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing preventative measures in place to curb the spread of the virus, such as stay-at-home orders and limitations on movement and gathering, will continue to impact field visits and service delivery, compounding pre-existing access challenges.
In 2021, UNHCR will focus on:
- Facilitating protection and life-saving assistance delivery through protection monitoring and outreach; strengthening data collection to enable cohesive analysis and evidence-based advocacy; and providing effective coordination and robust operational delivery in its core areas of responsibility – protection, shelter, non-food items and inter-agency camp coordination and camp management.
- Contributing to improving legal/policy frameworks by collaborating with key actors to enhance awareness and mitigate rights violations around protection of civilians, access to civil documentation, citizenship, freedom of movement and housing, land and property.
- Promoting phased pathways to durable solutions through medium- to long-term approaches aimed at creating conditions conducive for voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return; and building community resilience and cohesion through community-based projects in potential areas of refugee and IDP return. In Rakhine State, this will include seeking to expand activities under the tripartite agreement with the Government of Myanmar and UNDP, so that all communities have greater access to education, livelihoods and healthcare. UNHCR will also encourage dialogue on repatriation between the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar. In south-east Myanmar, the Office will facilitate the implementation of a cross-border multi-solutions strategy for Myanmar refugees in Thailand by supporting the Government of Myanmar to expedite pre-nationality verification, collecting information on return conditions, and facilitating the repatriation process.
- Building capacity and providing technical support to the Government of Myanmar, humanitarian and development actors, civil society and communities in realizing a favourable and inclusive protection environment, sustainable solutions for people of concern to UNHCR and addressing statelessness.