Emergency and humanitarian action

Conflict in Rakhine State, Myanmar; (Since May 2012)

On May 28th, 2012, inter-communal violence broke out in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The violence quickly escalated and caused massive population displacements, leading the government on June 10th to declare a State of Emergency and impose curfews in the state. In the initial weeks, over 5,000 buildings were destroyed, including the homes of 4,000 people that were burnt in a resurgence of violence in early August. The initial outburst left 87 deaths and 75,000 people living in 40 camps.

The number of IDPs recently reached 115,000, according to the authorities, including 36,400 displaced by new violence in October. The new wave of violence left an additional 90 people dead, 5,300 buildings destroyed and 136 wounded. With the situation remaining tense and volatile, the authorities have increased security efforts. In a written statement released on October 31st, President Thein Sein stated that the conflict between the two communities showed signs of evolving into “an armed violence, even threatening security forces”.

In February 2013, with the support of WHO, MoH and partner agencies were able to develop the Rakhine State ‘Comprehensive Health Plan’ which included short, medium and long term plans with budgeted activities.

On May 16, Cyclone Mahasen struck southern Bangladesh, bringing heavy rains and winds up to 95 km/h (60 mph), but Myanmar was spared much impact from the cyclone, since the storm took a more westerly track than anticipated. The Government of Myanmar reported that almost 120,000 people moved or were relocated to safer and higher places. Accompanying rains will further undermine living condition, water and sanitation and health situation in IDP camps. IDPs are placed in 55 camps and host communities across 9 townships.

With the support of WHO, MoH and State Health Department (SHD) were able to organize Health Sector Coordination Meetings with partner agencies bi-weekly at SHD, Sittwe, Rakhine State and once a month at MoH Nay Pyi Taw central levels. For the cyclone preparedness, MoH and all partner agencies were able to stock pile health supplies, made logistic arrangement and organized standby mobile health teams to be deployed to affected areas as needed. The latest HSC Meeting at Nay Pyi Taw was organized on 23rd May 2013 chaired by H.E Deputy Minister for Health.

WHO has been supporting the Ministry of Health and partner agencies in coordinating the health sector and had provided emergency health supplies, organize mobile clinics, technical guidelines, operational support and 175,000 USD as first trench from the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF) for emergency and early recovery interventions. WHO has stationed one staff at Sittwe and Health Assistance (HA) in all townships to support local health authorities and monitor the situation.

The situation is fluid, sensitive and complex in nature. Many of the issues and challenges faced are beyond the health sector control and multi-sectoral coordinated efforts are made to overcome them especially for the rainy season.

The challenges to be addressed carefully and effectively are as follows: 1. Upgrading of proper shelter, provision of safe water, hygiene, clean sanitation and good waste management. 2. Proper food and nutrition supplies and set up community kitchens, 3. Continuation of integrated mobile health services to all camps and host communities, 4. Good referral system for patients, 5. Economic viability and livelihood interventions, 6. Children education and social wellbeing, 7. Reconciliation and relocation.

WHO SEARO Situation Reports

OCHA Situation Reports