The total number of refugees is now more than 900,000, raising fears of a mass starvation event.
One out of every 100 citizens of Myanmar became displaced by conflict in the nearly 15 months since the junta seized power, according to the United Nations, pushing the total number of internal refugees to a staggering 912,700 and pushing the country ever closer to the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
In a statement on Tuesday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that 566,100 people — or more than 1% of Myanmar’s population of around 55 million — were made refugees since the Feb 1, 2021, coup, adding to some 346,000 people already identified as internally displaced persons (IDPs) prior to the takeover.
The agency said that for the first time, displacement in the northwest, where the military is carrying out a scorched earth campaign in Chin state and the regions of Sagaing and Magway, exceeded 300,000 people. Eastern Myanmar, which includes the embattled states of Shan, Kayah, and Kayin, also saw substantial displacement since the coup.
Junta troops killed at least 1,600 people, including some 100 children, since the coup, the U.N. office said. Many of the victims died in military airstrikes, artillery strikes or as the result of triggering landmines.
“Hundreds of thousands of men, women, boys and girls have fled their homes for safety since the February military takeover, many of them forced to move multiple times exposing people to grave protection risks,” the statement said.
The U.N. said in mid-January that the number of people displaced in Myanmar since the coup totaled 320,000, suggesting an increase of nearly 600,000 in the past three months alone.
The displacement has placed a tremendous strain on resources and IDPs are in desperate need of assistance.
“Overall, humanitarian actors, in close coordination with local partners, continue providing critical life-saving assistance to the most affected people but face ongoing challenges in addressing urgent needs due to access constraints and funding shortfalls,” the U.N.’s humanitarian office said.
“To meet their obligations to people in need, humanitarian actors, including the U.N., international and national NGOs, need quicker, simpler and more predictable access processes.”
Among the needs of IDPs identified by the agency were funding for educational activities, food security, health care, nutritional supplements, protection from violence, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES