Although international attention tends to focus on the transition to democracy that began in 2011, Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia.
Its relatively low level of development, itself a result of years of isolation, means that its population continues to suffer the consequences of the natural disasters that have struck the country in recent years (such as typhoons Nargis and Giri, in 2008 and 2010 respectively).
The multiple ethnic groups which make up the country’s population - 135 of which are officially recognized by the government - have long been opposed to the national government’s policy of centralization. Although ceasefires have been in place in several states since 1994, tensions flared up again in 2011, particularly in Kachin State, where more than 100,000 people were displaced following violent clashes between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar national army. These confrontations are still ongoing and continue to pose a threat to civilians, who fear being uprooted once again.
Furthermore, the inter-communal violence that broke out in Rakhine State in 2012, pitting two ethnic minorities against one another, resulted in the displacement of more than 135,000 people. Today, most of them are still living in remote, isolated camps, where inter-communal tensions are high. They are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In addition, numerous members of the (not officially recognized) Rohingya ethnic group, considered as "the most persecuted minority in the world" by the United Nations, are living in Northern Rakhine State, where they are being denied their basic human rights. An estimated million Rohingya live in Myanmar, the majority of them in Rakhine State.
- 48.4 million inhabitants (last official census dating from 1983 – another census is ongoing)
- 150th of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (PNUD 2013)
- 540,700 people in need of humanitarian assistance*
- 116,183 IDPs (internally displaced persons) living in camps in Rakhine State*
- 83,386 IDPs living in camps in Kachin State*
*Source: Humanitarian Response Plan Myanmar, 2015
Last updated in February 2015
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