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

Clashes between Government of Burma forces and the Arakan Army—a non-state ethnic Rakhine armed group—have escalated in 2019 after mostly smaller skirmishes between May and December 2018. The conflict had displaced more than 26,000 civilians in Rakhine and Chin states as of April 4.

The Government of Bangladesh has postponed plans to relocate up to 100,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District to Bhashan Char Island at least until after the May–to–September cyclone and monsoon seasons.

On March 3, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller announced nearly $46 million in USAID funding to the UN World Food Program to support ongoing food assistance programs in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

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: April 18, 2019

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