• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 52,253,000 Total population [?]
  • 3,560,000 People affected [?]
  • 110,000 People displaced [?]
  • 861,000 People in Need [?]



The political and security situation in Myanmar’s northern Kachin state and eastern Shan state is complex.

In Kachin, a 17-year ceasefire broke down in 2011, reigniting a decades-long conflict between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw). While there has been limited active conflict and few armed clashes in Kachin since August 2018, the effects of seven years of conflict have resulted humanitarian needs, with limited humanitarian access in affected areas. In northern Shan state, intense fighting has occurred since January 2018 and intensified since December 2020. There are an estimated 7 ethnic armed organisations (EAOs), 20 militia groups, and 7 Border Guard Forces (BGFs) actively engaged in an armed independence movement against the Myanmar government.?

Several years of conflict in Kachin has resulted in widespread food insecurity, disruption of government services, economic stagnation, and protracted displacement. Armed clashes, human rights violations, and landmine contamination pose a significant protection risk, especially in northern Shan. Access restrictions for humanitarian organisations and active conflict have eroded the coping capacity of communities in Kachin and Shan, two of the most impoverished states in Myanmar and extremely vulnerable to shocks.?

Around 104,000 people are internally displaced across both states. In Kachin, 95,000 people have been living in IDP camps since 2011. At least 37% of IDPs across the state live in areas that are non-government controlled or contested. In northern Shan, displacement is often short term. 34,600 people were temporarily displaced between January 2019–December 2020 because of active conflict – the majority were able to return to their place of origin within a few days. 9,800 people are in protracted displacement and have been living in camp settings since 2011.?

Latest Developments


Since 13 February, 2,060 new displacements were recorded in northern Shan following armed conflict between the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) fighting the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP). Those displaced are in 15 displacement sites in Kyaukme, Namtu and Hsipaw townships. Immediate needs include food, warm clothing, blankets, and medicine.?


Fighting between government forces and nonstate armed groups continues amid scheduled elections and COVID-19, worsening humanitarian needs and disenfranchising parts of the population Latest update: 04/11/2020


Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely


Very low Moderate Major

Risk Rationale

A general election is set to take place in Myanmar on 8 November, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and despite continued fighting between several ethnic armed groups (EAOs), Tatmadaw government forces, and armed militias in Rakhine, Kachin, Chin, and Shan States. This has resulted in continued internal displacement, difficulty in accessing certain areas – particularly Rakhine State – and increased humanitarian needs across the four states. The peace process, which began in 2016, and subsequent ceasefire agreements have lost momentum as state and non-state actors continue to use violence instead of a viable political solution.?

Violence between Tatmadaw government forces, the Arakan Army (AA), and other armed groups has intensified since early 2019, and in March 2020 the government declared the AA a terrorist organisation, reducing the likelihood of a compromise in the near future. Armed conflict has disrupted the electoral cycle, and certain areas are considered highly insecure and inaccessible by the Union Electoral Commission (UEC). On 17 and 27 October, the UEC deemed 56 townships insecure and partially or totally cancelled elections in Kachin, Karen, Mon, Rakhine, Chin and Shan States and in Bago Division. In 2015, general elections were also cancelled in at least 500 villages across Rakhine, Shan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, and Mon States and the Bago Region, so the scale of the 2020 cancellations is particularly significant.?

Trust in the central government is already low, because of their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the setup of the 2008 Constitution – which guarantees the military 25% of parliamentary seats. Cancelled elections and a lack of transparency by the UEC – considered an independent body – has fuelled anger, particularly among ethnic groups. Fighting is therefore likely to escalate as ethnic-armed groups, particularly in Rakhine, Chin, Shan and Kachin, attempt to represent these ethnic groups and use these grievances to extend their political and military control.?

Risk Impact

Rakhine State – particularly the centre and north – will continue to face the brunt of the fighting. The state has a population of over three million, and more than 200,000 people are displaced –126,000 of whom have been living in camp settings since 2012. The needs of people will become more severe as access will probably worsen. Rathedaung Township in Rakhine is likely to continue being on the front line of the conflict, which has repercussions on humanitarian access to IDP camps, including Zaydi Pyin camp, where there are existing food and shelter shortages. Food shortages are also an issue in other townships including Sittwe and Mrauk U Townships and Paletwa (Chin State), and are likely to worsen if the Tatmadaw uses a “four-cut” strategy to starve insurgents of food, funds, intelligence, and recruits. This will probably also increase the severity of people in need as they are indirectly affected by these cuts.?

In northern Shan, clashes between the Tatmadaw and EAOs will likely cause more displacement. While this may be temporary, there are already over 9,000 people currently displaced across the state who will probably be affected, increasing the need for fast response mechanisms. There are also major protection concerns as ethnic armed groups forcibly recruit children and young men in vulnerable situations. Major longer-term impacts on livelihood activities are also expected.?

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Key Priorities


Protection: Landmines and shelling near villages is a severe protection concern. Additionally, protracted displacement in poorly built and crowded settlements increases the risk of negative coping strategies, such as child marriage, risky migration routes, and recruitment into armed groups.?

Education: The education system in Shan is extremely weak due to the conflict: approximately 37% of Myanmar’s illiterate population live in Shan state. Schools in northern Shan are damaged by shelling or used as bases by non-state armed groups and the Tatmadaw.?

Food and Livelihoods: Conflict and movement restrictions have weakened access to food supplies and agricultural production across Kachin and Shan. Farmers are unable to access their fields and civilians fear going to market because of  threat of extortion, forced conscription, and arbitrary detention by both the Tatmadaw and non-state armed groups. Climate-related shocks and economic stagnation have also undermined food security. ?