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According to the UN humanitarian agency, 694,000 people have been displaced by the conflict since last year’s coup.
Displaced people from Myanmar help each other to transport donated items across the Moei River from the Thai side to Myanmar, in Mae Sot, Thailand on February 7, 2022.
Credit: AP Photo
The number of displaced people in Myanmar has topped one million for the first time as conflicts stemming from last year’s military coup continue to widen and deepen, the agency said yesterday. United Nations humanitarian relief.
According to the latest humanitarian update from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), some 694,000 people have been displaced by the conflict and insecurity resulting from the disastrous army takeover last February. . This represents an increase of 127,900 since OCHA’s previous update in mid-April.
The report, which covers the period up to May 26, says that of this group of 694,000 people, thousands were forced to move for the second or third time, while around 40,200 people crossed the borders to neighboring countries. An additional 346,000 people are estimated to have been displaced by fighting before last year’s coup, mostly due to long-running conflicts between the military and ethnic armed groups that have been fighting for their autonomy for decades. vis-à-vis the central state.
OCHA also estimates that 12,700 properties, “including homes, churches, monasteries and schools”, have been destroyed since the coup, compared to 8,262 in the latest update.
The military takeover last year ended a decade of limited openness, provoking a fierce response from Myanmar’s people and stoking simmering conflicts with armed ethnic groups on the country’s periphery. After security forces violently suppressed mass protests, opposition reemerged in the form of dozens of locally-based People’s Defense Forces (PDF) that launched a collective armed uprising against the coup government.
According to the update, the already dire situation has been exacerbated by an escalation in fighting between the junta and its opponents. “Various regions of Myanmar have witnessed an escalation in fighting, further worsening the already fragile humanitarian situation,” the update said. “The impact on civilians is worsening every day with frequent indiscriminate attacks and incidents involving explosive hazards including landmines and explosive remnants of war.”
The effects of the conflict are compounded by rising commodity prices, including food and fuel, and the onset of the monsoon season, “causing damage to shelters and further exacerbating existing vulnerabilities”.
OCHA added that funding for UN relief efforts is “catastrophic” and that funding for the 2022 humanitarian response plan is only 10% funded, with a shortfall of $740 million. “All clusters are severely underfunded, threatening their ability to meet growing needs and response gaps,” the report said.
OCHA’s humanitarian updates are rarely fun to read, but the latest report paints a particularly grim picture of Myanmar’s trajectory, more than 16 months after the coup. With the clashes between the military junta and its loose coalition of opponents, and no negotiated resolution to the crisis likely in the foreseeable future, it’s likely that the next update, due later this month, will carry the same bad – or even worse – news.