The outbreak of violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar on 25 August 2017 resulted in one of the largest humanitarian crises in recent history. An estimated 728,000 people fled to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and thousands more were displaced internally within Rakhine State. Rakhine State is one of the most deprived and underdeveloped states in Myanmar and the eruption of violence and resulting displacement, restriction of access and movement has further deteriorated all communities’ possibilities to meet basic needs and continue with their livelihoods.
The Red Cross Movement (RCM), involving Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been proactively involved in providing food aid and other humanitarian services to the vulnerable people affected by the violence in northern areas of Rakhine.
In an effort to strengthen recovery among the food aid dependent population, MRCS with multi-lateral support from IFRC, designed a livelihoods-focused recovery project. The one-year project, which started in November 2018, is funded by Danish Red Cross. It targets 5 villages with populations affected by violence in Maungdaw Township.
Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) held the first Basic and Training of Trainers (ToT) course on Migration and Displacement on 9 – 12 July in Myanmar. The participants in this first training and ToT were MRCS Migration and Displacement Taskforce members that include Deputy Secretary General, and Directors and Deputy Directors from First Aid and Social Services, Ambulance Service, Rakhine Special Operations, Disaster Management, Restoring Family Link, South-East (Refugee Returns) Project, Organizational Development, Health, Kachin Special Operations, Youth Volunteering, and Kachin State Chairman of MRCS. The development and implementation of this training is one of the pillars of the MRCS 10-point MRCS Action Plan on Migration and Displacement.
The training introduced key concepts and Red Cross principles of migration and displacement and how these can be applied in practice. The findings from the MRCS National Assessment on Migration and Displacement were shared and discussed and served as reference for the development of this training programme. The training was interactive and used case studies and scenarios which were relevant to Myanmar migration and displacement context. Next steps are for Taskforce members to consider and plan how Migration and Displacement principles and concepts can be included in the existing training or delivered separately in each department for staff and volunteers of MRC on the Red Cross approach to migration and displacement.
From 16-17 May 2019, the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) held a workshop in Yangon to discuss the findings of a new MRCS Assessment on Migration and Displacement. The workshop was an opportunity for the new MRCS Task Force on Migration and Displacement to discuss and input into the draft assessment findings. The workshop also included the first ever meeting of the Red Cross Movement Task Force on Migration and Displacement. The workshop was led by the MRCS Director of the RFL Department, Daw Su Su Lynn, with the support of IFRC (including the IFRC Country Office, the IFRC Regional Migration and Displacement Coordinator and the new IFRC Myanmar Migration Delegate – Amanda Aye). The workshop was also supported by the British Red Cross.
The workshop follows on from the MRCS National Strategic Dialogue on Migration and Displacement held in November 2018 and the resulting 10-point Action Plan on Migration and Displacement.
The assessment findings include:
- Trends and dynamics related to migration and displacement in and from Myanmar, especially related to asylum seekers and refugees, IDPs, persons who have been trafficked, migrant workers and undocumented migrants;
- Humanitarian needs at different stages of migration and displacement;
- The role and activities of key stakeholders, including the Government of Myanmar;
- The existing programmes and activities of MRCS related to migration and displacement
The workshop participants included MRCS Madame President, Executive Committee members, Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and members of the MRCS Migration and Displacement Task Force including Directors from Disaster Management, Health, Restoring Family Links, First Aid Safety and Security (FASS) and the Southeast Project.
Presentations were delivered by representative from MRCS departments including Rakhine Operations, South-East Project, as well as external agencies – UNHCR, IOM, ILO.
Immediately after the workshop, Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) chaired the inaugural Movement-wide Migration and Displacement Taskforce meeting. At this meeting, the MRCS Taskforce presented the findings and discussion points from the workshop to the Movement-wide Task Force including ICRC, IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Migration & Displacement Coordinator, American Red Cross, Asia Pacific Migration Network (APMN) Secretariat, British Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, German Red Cross and Swedish Red Cross.
The needs assessment report will be finalised and will function as a guiding document and baseline report for next actions of MRCS, including the development of a Migration and Displacement training programme, an MRCS Migration Policy, and for future programming initiatives.