Displaced children using a water pump in Rakhine State, Burma.
Displaced children using a water pump in Rakhine State, Burma.
Brian Heidel/USAID

Since 2011, ongoing violence has caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. To help the people affected by the conflict, USAID has been providing humanitarian assistance throughout the country - focused primarily in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan. In August 2017, renewed attacks in northern Rakhine led to increased humanitarian needs and a massive influx of more than 700,000 refugees into Bangladesh.

Key Developments

Government of Burma-imposed restrictions continue to impede the ability of humanitarian actors to assess and respond to the needs of vulnerable populations in Burma’s northern Rakhine State, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reports. While MSF continues to operate in central Rakhine and other areas of Burma, the non-governmental organization has lacked access to northern Rakhine since mid-August 2017, when the Government of Burma revoked MSF’s authorization to conduct medical activities in the area.

The Government of Bangladesh and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are conducting a population verification exercise to develop a database for collecting demographic information on Rohingya refugees sheltering in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District. The Government of Bangladesh and humanitarian organizations plan to utilize the data to improve response plans and avoid service duplication in Cox’s Bazar.

Rakhine Crisis

After a period of relative stability, the conflict intensified again in August 2017, following renewed attacks on checkpoints and police posts and subsequent military operations in northern Rakhine, prompting significant population displacement and humanitarian need. More than 700,000 people have fled to Bangladesh due to military operations and intercommunal violence in Rakhine. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance in Burma, USAID is providing food and nutrition assistance in Bangladesh.


Ongoing conflicts in multiple states of Burma have resulted in increased internal displacement and humanitarian needs in recent years. In June 2011, a ceasefire between the GoB and the KIO broke down, leading to an upsurge in conflict and associated displacement. In western Burma’s Rakhine State, several bouts of ethnic clashes starting in June 2012 resulted in casualties, property damage, and internal displacement. In Mandalay Region, clashes between Buddhist and Muslim residents of Meiktila city in March 2013 resulted in significant displacement and property damage in Meiktila and surrounding areas.

In addition, Burma faces a number of natural hazards, particularly cyclones, floods, and earthquakes. In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta, killing more than 84,000 people and devastating Burma’s agriculture sector and fishing industry.

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Last updated: August 24, 2018

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