Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it
provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition,
education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Over 1 million people, including an estimated 450,000 children, are affected by Myanmar’s decade-long conflict and are increasingly vulnerable to gender-based violence, exploitation, abuse, detention and trafficking.
- Community transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is increasing in Myanmar. COVID-19 requires a nationwide response focusing on critical urban and vulnerable populations, such as those in overcrowded camps for internally displaced persons.
- UNICEF will work through its field offices and national and sub-national partnerships to support the growing needs of conflict-affected children, adolescents, pregnant women and lactating women in Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Shan and Kayin States, as well as those impacted by COVID-19 nationwide.
- UNICEF requires US$61.7 million to support critical water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, health, education, social protection and child protection needs and improve hygiene behaviours to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Key planned results for 2021
176,197 children receiving multiple micronutrient powders
423,500 people reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services
135,000 children / caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
500,000 households benefiting from new / additional social transfers
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
Nearly 1 million people, including 336,000 internally displaced persons and 350,000 children, are affected by Myanmar’s decade-long conflict. Children and women are increasingly vulnerable to gender-based violence, family separation, exploitation, abuse, detention, arrest, recruitment and trafficking. Those affected also lack access to basic services such as health, nutrition and education.
In 2020, fighting between the Myanmar Armed Forces and the Arakan Army displaced over 81,000 people in Rakhine and 7,200 people in Chin. In addition to the newly displaced, 130,000 people have been displaced since 2012 and are experiencing deteriorating conditions in overcrowded camps. There are continuing reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, including damage to public and private infrastructure, indiscriminate shelling and death and injury due to landmines. Access constraints due to bureaucratic impediments, deteriorating security conditions and COVID-19 are severely restricting the movement of people – both to those providing services/support and those in need. Humanitarian needs are particularly significant in Rakhine State, where nearly 600,000 stateless Rohingya persons – including 100,000 internally displaced persons – reside. Indicators – such as on child development, immunization, nutrition, access to water and sanitation, and access to education and learning opportunities – are poor.
In conflict-affected areas of Myanmar, nearly 951,000 people will need protection, 913,000 will need WASH support, 278,000 will need education and 818,000 will need health and nutrition support due to conflict and displacement. The conflict is entering its tenth year, and the coping capacities of both displaced people and host communities are waning. In 2020, the Government adopted a new strategy for resettling internally displaced persons and closing camps; however opportunities for durable solutions remain limited due to landmine and unexploded ordnance contamination, underdevelopment and human rights challenges.
Growing transmission of COVID-19 is also hindering access to services across the country. Physical distancing and lockdown requirements are disrupting service delivery and utilization and slowing economic activity, which has resulted in loss of household income. Given that nearly one third of children in Myanmar (5 million children) are living below the poverty line, and another third live just above it, this is of serious concern. The closure of all schools for the majority of the 2020/21 school year could have lasting and detrimental impacts on the future of the country's children.
Myanmar is also extremely vulnerable to natural hazards, including cyclones, floods and earthquakes, which could have a devastating impact on vulnerable communities.
In 2021, UNICEF will continue to meet the needs of internally displaced and conflict-affected populations in Myanmar and mitigate the impacts of conflict and inequity. The response will include the provision of critical supplies, technical assistance, risk communication and community engagement, and accountability to affected populations, in line with the Grand Bargain commitments. UNICEF will also identify and implement durable solutions that foster linkages between its humanitarian action and development programmes.
UNICEF will continue to provide assistance in Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Shan and Kayin states—including to address gender- and disability-specific needs—in line with the priorities identified in the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan. Specifically, in Rakhine, UNICEF’s strategy focuses on reaching children and caregivers in both conflict-affected communities and camps for internally displaced persons; following key humanitarian principles, including ‘do no harm’ and conflict sensitivity, accountability to affected populations and humanitarian-development linkages. The interventions are aligned with the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission. This will be done in partnership with national and sub-national authorities, national and international non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and other response actors.
In conflict-affected areas, UNICEF will focus on preventing and treating severe acute malnutrition (SAM); providing nutrition support for pregnant and lactating women; supporting access to health services; addressing gender-based violence; monitoring and reporting on six grave violations of children's rights; ensuring access to safe water and sanitation; improving knowledge and prevention of COVID-19; and fostering safe in-person or remote learning opportunities for children aged 3 to 17 years. Cross-sector programming will focus on early childhood care and development and adolescent-focused education and protection activities. UNICEF will advocate for unfettered access to all in need, and address vulnerability throughout the country through risk-informed responses and programming.
To address COVID-19 needs nationwide, UNICEF will continue to work with sister United Nations agencies to develop a rapid response mechanism designed to support affected communities. In 2021, risk communication and community engagement activities will focus on breastfeeding, handwashing, hygiene and physical distancing, in coordination with WASH, nutrition and health teams. All UNICEF programmes have been modified to ensure the safety of staff and beneficiaries. UNICEF will also support home-based learning initiatives and continue psychosocial services for front-line workers and children.
UNICEF has five field offices, two sub-offices, and offices in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw. UNICEF leads the nutrition-in-emergencies sector and the WASH cluster; co-leads the education-in-emergencies sector; is the lead agency for the child protection area of responsibility; and participates in the health cluster and gender-based violence working group. UNICEF emergency staff in Myanmaralso work on emergency preparedness and planning. UNICEF will continue to leverage its strategic position and long-standing experience in Myanmar to reach children, adolescents and caretakers with life-saving interventions.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Myanmar; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.