18 million people – about one-third of Myanmar’s population – need humanitarian aid this year because of civil war and the post-coup economic crisis, according to the latest United Nations estimates.
The numbers needing support continue to rise from the estimated 14 million people needing aid last year.
More than 10,000 people were displaced by fighting in southern Kayin State in early January alone, joining more than 1.5 million IDPs across the country.
Aid workers accuse the junta of further restricting aid operations and blocking urgently needed aid from reaching millions of people. The junta is seeking to impose its authority with a new law making registration compulsory for national and international non-governmental organizations and associations and introducing criminal penalties for non-registered entities with up to five years of imprisonment.
James Rodehaver, chief of the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) Myanmar Team, said, “These new rules could greatly diminish what operational space is left for civic organisations to deliver essential goods and services to a population that is struggling to survive.”
It is able to choke access to some areas controlled by resistance groups and ethnic armed organisations that have been fighting the military for decades. The junta has extended a state of emergency for another six months.
"Heavy fighting, including airstrikes, tight security, access restrictions, and threats against aid workers have continued unabated, particularly in the Southeast, endangering lives and hampering humanitarian operations,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported.