Violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar

30 October 2017

Violence in Rakhine State in Myanmar has led to over 600,000 people fleeing over the border to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017. Most of these people arrived with few or no possessions and are reliant on humanitarian aid to survive. Almost 60 percent of new arrivals are children.

Australia is working closely with humanitarian partners to provide assistance to displaced people and host communities, both in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Australia's humanitarian assistance

  • On 23 October Australia announced $10 million in assistance to support communities affected by the violence in Rakhine State, including those displaced to Bangladesh. This is in addition to $20 million announced in September.
  • Australian assistance will be provided through the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Australian NGOs and BRAC, the world’s largest NGO.
  • Our assistance includes support to communities still in Rakhine State, provided through the Red Cross movement.
  • Australian support will provide food, nutrition, shelter, trauma counselling, clean water and education to communities in need. Our support will particularly focus on the needs of women and girls, and children, and support provision of protection services to these groups.
  • Australia is one of the largest donors to response efforts to this crisis.
  • Australia also has a substantial ongoing annual humanitarian program in Myanmar. We provided $18 million in 2016-17 including towards humanitarian needs in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. Australia has also provided a further $16.5 million since 2013 to displaced people and host communities in Cox’s Bazar.

Factsheet: Australia's assistance in response to displacement from Rakhine State, Myanmar [PDF 208 KB] | [DOCX 289 KB]

Myanmar – Bangladesh Joint Emergency Appeal

The Australian Government is supporting a joint appeal by Australian humanitarian agencies responding to this crisis. The Government is matching donations to the Australian Red Cross and Australia for UNHCR. Please visit the joint appeal webpage for more information.

BRAC's activities with displaced communities

Australia has provided $3 million in funding to BRAC, the world's largest local NGO. BRAC is working with displaced people and host communities in Cox's Bazar to provide healthcare, clean water, and safe spaces for children. BRAC has already installed over 870 wells, distributed 5,000 litres of safe drinking water, built over 2,700 toilets, and provided over 4,000 children and youth with safe play and recreation spaces. Our funding will help BRAC to continue this work and reach even more people.

Video: BRAC's pink vests: On the ground with Asif Saleh

WFP providing food and nutrition with Australia's support

With support from Australia ($8 million in 2017-18 so far), WFP will provide food and nutrition to people in Cox's Bazar. Funding from Australia will help WFP provide 740,000 people with 25kg of rice every two weeks until February 2018. At end October, WFP has provided over 65,000 women and children with SuperCereal Plus, used to make nutritious porridge.

WFP is providing food assistance to people displaced to Bangladesh.
WFP is providing food assistance to people displaced to Bangladesh. Credit: WFP

Working with Australian NGOs

Australia is providing $6 million through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership to Save the Children Australia and Oxfam Australia (partnering with CARE Australia).

This assistance will reach up to 120,000 of the most vulnerable women, men, girls, boys and people with disabilities in the Cox's Bazar district. It will help to meet basic food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene needs. Additionally, this assistance will establish education and child friendly spaces, help unaccompanied children find their families and provide counselling for children who have been impacted by violence or trauma.

Save the Children Australia will provide shelter and food to people displaced to Bangladesh.
Save the Children Australia will provide shelter and food to people displaced to Bangladesh. Credit: Save the Children
Oxfam Australia, partnering with CARE Australia and CBM Australia, will provide clean water to people in Cox’s Bazar. Credit: Oxfam
Oxfam Australia, partnering with CARE Australia and CBM Australia, will provide clean water to people in Cox’s Bazar. Credit: Oxfam

Clean water and shelter for affected communities through IOM

DFAT is providing $3 million to IOM to support people in Bangladesh who have fled Myanmar and those affected by the recent flooding. IOM is working through local partners to provide plastic sheeting for shelter, clean water, access to education counselling and psychological support for survivors of violence and mental trauma, and access to education.

International Organization for Migration is setting up tanks to provide clean water in settlements in Cox's Bazar. Credit: IOM

Protecting women and girls through UNFPA

UNFPA is working in Cox’s Bazar to provide health and protection for women and girls. Australia’s funding of $1.5 million will support UNFPA to reach nearly 300,000 women with sexual and reproductive health services, including for 34,000 pregnant women. UNFPA will also provide nearly 190,000 women and girls with services to respond to incidents of violence, including referral to medical care and counselling.

Travel advice

Please visit the Smartraveller website for the latest Australian travel advice for Myanmar and Cox's Bazar region of Bangladesh. As at 20 February, Smartraveller is advising Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Bangladesh and Rakhine State, and recommends Australians do not travel to the areas in northern Rakhine State. If you have any concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region, you should attempt to directly contact them. 

If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare, you should call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1 300 555 135, or +61 2 6261 3305 (if calling from overseas).

More information

Follow @AusHumanitarian on Twitter for more information about Australia's humanitarian response.

Media Releases:

Last Updated: 5 November 2017
Makeshift homes in the Burmapara camp. Credit: WFP (Silke Buhr)
Australia's Deputy High Commissioner to Bangladesh undertakes a visit to makeshift settlements with WFP and IOM. Credit: DFAT
WFP is providing rice and high energy biscuits to people affected by violence in Rakhine State. Credit: WFP