Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)3.70 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.2.80 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.3.60 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.4.50 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.5.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
Myanmar: Internet shutdown in Rakhine and Chin state
Rakhine is one of the poorest and least developed states in the country. It is home to the Rohingya, a primarily Muslim and persecuted minority in Myanmar. The Rohingya are not officially recognised by the Myanmar government, which considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh – rendering them stateless?
Since 1978, Rakhine has seen numerous incidents of state violence against its Rohingya population. An extreme episode of violence beginning in August 2017 triggered the displacement of more than 700,000 Rohingyas from Rakhine to Bangladesh. There are 600,000 Rohingya currently in Rakhine; 470,000 are not considered displaced but are stateless, and over 130,000 are confined to camps or camp-like settings in central Rakhine. They continue to face extreme restrictions on their freedom of movement, segregation, marginalisation, extortion, and trafficking. They also face limited access to healthcare,
education, and livelihood opportunities.?
The Arakan Army (AA) – a Rakhine ethnic armed group – has led an insurgency in the state that escalated between January 2019 and November 2020 and resulted in hundreds of casualties and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure, such as schools. The AA claims to seek self-determination for the multiethnic people of Rakhine state. Since the 1 February 2021 coup, the AA has not voiced support to the National Unity Government nor clashed with the military. ?
No significant recent humanitarian developments. This crisis is being monitored by our analysis team.
Protection: Armed conflict and landmine contamination in Rohingya villages have led to a spike in civilian casualties. Extreme human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, restrictions on movement, and extortion, pose a significant protection risk for the 600,000 Rohingya in Rakhine.?
WASH: IDPs, especially those confined to camps, have limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Available water sources dry up in the dry season (March–May) and monsoon season (May–September) results in stagnant water. Both increase the dependence of IDPs on contaminated water, elevating the risk of waterborne disease.?
Food and Livelihoods: Disruption of trade routes as a result of conflict has resulted in shortages of food rations, especially in southern Chin state. Fear of landmines, shelling, and arbitrary detention keeps farmers from their fields, which resulted in low crop production in 2019–2020. Approximately 45% of Rakhine’s population relies on agriculture, fisheries, and livestock as a source of livelihood.?
Information Gaps and Needs
There is very little information regarding the number of IDPs in Rakhine state or their location, with different estimates from the Rakhine Ethnic Congress, the government, or the UN. Access restrictions in townships heavily affected by conflict as well as government-run IDP settlements make it difficult to verify the number of displaced people.
Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 was first declared in Rakhine state on 23 March, with two cases reported. The state was largely unaffected by COVID-19 until cases surged between 16–25 August, when 80 new cases were reported. Rakhine was put into partial lockdown on 20 August because of both the surge and a high number of locally transmitted cases. The state was at the epicentre of the second wave, but saw a sharp decline in the number of cases by the end of January 2021. Restrictions remain in place, including curfews and approval of movement, and schools remain shut. All 17 townships in Rakhine are affected.?
IDPs in Rakhine are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. Over 4,000 IDPs live across 30 sites in Sittwe, the state capital, and over 18,000 IDPs are located across 26 sites in Mrauk-U town. On 31 August, Taung Paw IDP relocation site confirmed its first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 and another case was recorded on 14 October in Kyauktaw town. This raises concerns, given the unsanitary and densely populated housing in camp settings, which makes it difficult to follow physical distancing and other COVID-19 containment measures.?
Humanitarian access is constrained across the state as new regulations require travel authorisations from the central government. The provision of aid is limited to ‘essential services’, which include food, health, water, and latrines. Several humanitarian organisations have reported being ‘on hold’, despite being ready to deliver aid. Humanitarian staff members are required to undergo swab testing before delivering any form of life-saving assistance as per government requirements.?
UPDATE FROM THE MARCH 2020 RISK ANALYSIS
Escalating conflict and government restrictions in Rakhine lead to deterioration of humanitarian conditions for Rohingya, especially in northern and central townships.
Since March 2020, conflict in the north of Myanmar has moved further south and directly impacted townships that were previously less affected by active conflict (Myebon, Ponnagyun, Minbya, and Sittwe townships). The number of security incidents in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, has increased, and routes via land and water have been blocked. Landmines and improvised explosive devices continued to affect civilians’ access to paddy fields, which has hindered the growing season and is likely to affect the harvesting season as well. Throughout the risk period, several roads – including the Yangon-Sittwe highway – were affected by fighting which impacted access to people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Flooding in Minbya, Myebon, Rathedaung, Buthidaung, and Mrauk-U townships damaged shelters, but it is unclear whether there was a rise in water-borne diseases. Humanitarian access and provision of services decreased dramatically because of COVID-19 containment measures, which limited services to “essential assistance”, including food, health, water, and latrines. Several humanitarian organisations reported being “on hold” despite being ready for aid delivery. Based on these events, the severity of people in need is likely to have worsened, but it is not clear to what extent. Persecution in Rakhine continues as evidenced by extrajudicial killings, including on 2 August. The Rohingya community continues to face limited access to healthcare, education, livelihoods, internet, and other basic rights.?
Read the latest October Risk Analysis here