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

Relief actors, including U.S. Government partners, continue to respond to the humanitarian needs of displaced individuals and host community members in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District, including those affected by the region’s ongoing May-to-October cyclone and monsoon seasons. Between mid-May and late July, more than 415 weather-related incidents— including strong winds, landslides, flooding, and fire—impacted approximately 35,800 people in the district and resulted in the death of at least one refugee, the UN reports.

In mid-June, heavy monsoon rainfall generated flooding and landslides throughout Burma, resulting in at least 19 deaths—including six deaths in Rakhine State—and displacing more than 10,000 households, according to local media. USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance continues to support humanitarian partners to conduct disaster risk reduction and capacity-building activities in coastal, low-lying Rakhine, which is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.

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 27, 2018

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