Myanmar nears humanitarian precipice as UN appeals for urgent aid

According to the report, released by the OCHA on Monday, 18th December the 18.6 million people currently in need of humanitarian assistance marked a staggering increase of 1 million from just a year ago and a harrowing 19 times the figure recorded in 2020, before the coup.

Myanmar was highlighted as ‘standing on the brink of a deepening humanitarian crisis’, with over one-third of its population, more than 18 million people, said to require urgent humanitarian aid, according to a stark warning issued by the United Nations (UN) on Monday, 18th December. The global body appealed for a billion dollars in donations in 2024 to address the escalating needs in the country.

The situation was reported to have deteriorated significantly since the military coup nearly three years ago, with the civilian population now living in constant fear, as outlined in a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released on Monday.

According to the report, the 18.6 million people currently in need of humanitarian assistance marked a staggering increase of 1 million from just a year ago and a harrowing 19 times the figure recorded in 2020, before the coup. The impact on children was particularly alarming, with 6 million children experiencing the dire consequences of displacement, disrupted healthcare and education, food insecurity, malnutrition, and exposure to protection risks such as forced recruitment and mental distress.

Marcoluigi Corsi, the UN’s interim humanitarian coordinator for Myanmar, emphasized the gravity of the situation. He warned that children were bearing the brunt of the crisis.

Mass displacement was reported to be a critical concern, with nearly 2.6 million people reported to have been forced out of their homes as of December 11. This represented an alarming increase of 1.1 million compared to the same period last year. Notably, over 660,000 individuals were reported to have been displaced since late October amidst the escalating conflict between the military and ethnic minority fighters in the northern regions of the country.

The report underscored the anticipation of further deterioration in conflicts and violence in 2024, condemning the systematic military violence against civilians. Against this dire backdrop, OCHA urgently appealed for $994 million in donations to address the needs of 5.3 million people identified as priorities for aid in Myanmar in the coming year.

Marcoluigi Corsi stressed the importance of avoiding a repeat of the insufficient funding witnessed in 2023, where only 29 per cent of the required funding was met. He emphasized that an estimated 1.9 million people prioritized for aid in 2023 were left without assistance.

Corsi urged that millions of lives were at stake, and efforts should be made to prevent Myanmar from becoming a forgotten emergency. Despite the severity of the crisis, the majority of UN international aid programs remain underfunded, underscoring the urgency of global attention and support for Myanmar as it grapples with an increasingly dire humanitarian situation.