During the month of January, UNICEF continued to support children in IDP camps in central Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States across sectors. UNICEF and partners are providing mental health and psycho-social support to nearly 13,000 people in Rakhine State, the majority of whom are in areas of northern Rakhine. Over 20,000 children, aged 3 to 17 years continue to access UNICEF-supported learning opportunities.
In January, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore visited Myanmar and advocated on the urgent need to grant agencies unfettered humanitarian access, and to expand the coverage and quality of basic services for all children; including in rural areas and those affected by conflict. In Rakhine state, she saw first-hand how children from different communities bear the scars of violence and communal tensions. However, access to conflict-affected rural townships in Northern Rakhine remains suspended for UNICEF and some 20 other humanitarian actors despite increased advocacy with both State and Union representatives.
For its 2019 response, UNICEF has set activity targets aimed at ensuring that all children in need of humanitarian assistance as identified in the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) are reached; including those not currently being reached by other partners. As such, to reach all targeted children, UNICEF requires over US$59 million in 2019, nearly double the required amount in 2018. No funding has been received in 2019 to date.
The 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview highlights that over the 7.4 million people living in conflict-affected areas, over 940,000 are in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 244,000 internally displaced persons and over 696,000 non-displaced. Among IDPs, children make up over 50 percent (53% in Rakhine, 46% in Kachin/Shan), while women and children combined represent approximately 77 percent of the population.
Of those in need, the vast majority are in Rakhine State including 128,000 IDPs and 470,000 non-displaced stateless people in addition to 117,000 other vulnerable crisis-affected people. In Kachin, Shan and Kayin, there are over 226,000 people in need including over 116,000 IDPs.
In 2019, UNICEF will work with the UN and NGO partners to achieve the three strategic objectives outlined in the Humanitarian Response Plan: protection of civilians and durable solutions for displaced people, access of vulnerable, crisis-affected people to assistance, services and livelihoods, and strengthening the resilience of communities and national capacities to prepare for and respond to natural disaster and other emergencies.
In January, the conflict between the Myanmar Armed Forces and the Arakan Army escalated causing the displacement of approximately 5,200 people�principally ethnic Rakhine. In late January, fighting also spread into southern Chin State causing the displacement of people internally and into neighbouring India. In January, the Rakhine State Government informed its district and township authorities that all UN and INGO access�except for WFP and the Red Cross Movement�was suspended outside of urban areas of Rathedaung, Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Kyauktaw and Ponnagyun townships due to fighting. This restriction is impacting over 20 humanitarian actors, including UNICEF. UNICEF with other agencies increased advocacy with both State and Union representatives to encourage assessment and response to newly displaced as well as a continuation of previous activities. The affected areas partially overlap with areas affected by the violence in late 2017, which may further complicate potential returns from Bangladesh. Despite the challenges, UNICEF continues to implement programmes across Rakhine State, with children accessing WASH, health, nutrition, child protection and education programmes.
In Kachin and northern Shan States, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that over 43,000 people have been temporarily displaced by fighting in 33 locations since January 2018, which was nearly triple that displaced during the previous year. The displaced people reside in 172 camps and settlements, some of whom have been displaced since 2011 and others having been displaced multiple times. No UNICEF staff, or staff of other UN agencies, have been able to access non-government-controlled areas since June 2016; as a result, national agencies implement the vast majority of humanitarian response activities. In government-controlled areas, access is increasingly difficult with increased restrictions on movement. Tracking of access by humanitarian organizations by OCHA and humanitarian partners highlights that only 45 percent of affected people were reached consistently by international and national actors.
Source: UN Children’s Fund