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 nearly 688,000 refugees into Bangladesh

Key Developments

Government of Burma-imposed access constraints continue to impede humanitarian efforts in northern Rakhine, where an unknown number of internally displaced persons and other vulnerable populations—including remaining ethnic Rohingya Muslims—are sheltering. In addition, nearly 100,000 people remain displaced in Kachin and Shan, where ongoing conflict and access impediments continue to hinder the assessment of humanitarian needs and delivery of aid.

Nearly 884,000 Burmese refugees were sheltering in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District as of February 25, the UN reports. The March–December 2018 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis estimates that nearly $951 million is required to address the needs of 1.3 million people in Bangladesh, including refugees and host communities.

With more than $299 million since the beginning of FY 2017, the U.S. Government continues to support lifesaving food, health, nutrition, protection, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance to conflict-affected populations in Burma and 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. As of mid-December, an estimated 693,000 people had 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.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: May 22, 2018

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