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 740,000 refugees into Bangladesh.

Key Developments

From July 2–15, significant monsoon rains and wind, as well as subsequent flooding and landslides, affected approximately 20,000 refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District, where more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees reside in camps. The monsoon-related weather temporarily displaced more than 6,000 people and destroyed approximately 2,000 shelters. As of July 12, State/PRM and USAID/OFDA partner the International Organization for Migration had distributed emergency relief commodities, including shelter materials, to more than 6,000 people, and U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees had evacuated more than 2,100 people from affected areas.

The Government of Burma restricted internet service in conflict-affected areas of Chin and Rakhine states beginning on June 20; the suspension continued as of July 19. Relief actors have expressed concern that the internet suspension is impacting humanitarian communication and coordination in the two states, where fighting between the Arakan Army and Government of Burma forces since early 2019 had displaced at least 27,000 people as of May 26. The conflict and resulting displacement remain fluid.

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: July 23, 2019

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