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

On September 24, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced more than $185 million in additional FY 2018 humanitarian funding to support internally displaced persons and conflict-affected populations in Burma, as well as Burmese refugees and host communities in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District who have been affected by the Rakhine State crisis. The announced funding comprised $14 million in funding from USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, $60 million in funding from USAID's Office of Food for Peace, and $112 million in funding from U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. U.S. humanitarian assistance for the Rakhine State crisis totals to $389 million since the outbreak of violence in August 2017.

In mid-November, the Government of Bangladesh delayed plans to repatriate Rohingya refugees due to refugees’ unwillingness to return to Burma. The UN and other relief
agencies continue to emphasize that conditions in Rakhine State are not conducive to voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable returns, and that any returns should be fully

Overcrowding and difficult road access to refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District remain key humanitarian challenges, but coordination efforts and food security
conditions for refugees have improved in recent months.

To mitigate weather-related risks during the October-to-November cyclone season in Cox's Bazar, humanitarians—including U.S. Government partners—provided
wind-resistant shelter upgrades, repaired cyclone shelters, and raised awareness about cyclone preparedness measures in camps and host communities, as well as relocated
refugees from areas at highest risk of flooding and landslides to safer locations.

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: December 03, 2018

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