Myanmar’s long, bitter history of displacement by armed conflict has grown much worse since February’s military coup. At the end of 2020, after decades of armed conflict between the Burmese Army and minority ethnic armed groups, estimates of the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Myanmar ranged from 370,000 to 505,000. Now, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that over 211,000 more people have been displaced by violence since the February 1st coup. This does not include the over 1.02 million refugees that the UNHCR estimates have fled Myanmar for other countries over the years, including an estimated 22,000 since the coup.
As conflict lessens or reignites in various regions, exact numbers are difficult to pinpoint. Chin, Rakhine, Kachin, and northern Shan States all are home to a dense concentration of IDP camps. In some areas, such as several Christian villages in Kayin (Karen) state, villagers are driven from their homes by conflict, return when the conflict subsides, and then flee again when hostilities resume. Behind the uncertain numbers are men, women, and children living in distress and trauma-filled poverty: vulnerable to COVID-19 and other illnesses, sometimes unable to access food due to pandemic lockdowns, and filled by an aching uncertainty over whether they will ever be able to return home.
Several ministries have been diligently dodging conflict zones to bring relief and much-needed food and medical supplies to IDP communities. In Chin State, a team successfully delivered rice, mosquito nets, bottled water, antibiotics, and other crucial supplies to IDPs, and extracted two very ill elderly women for medical care. In Magway, a ministry team dug a well to give clean water access to 250 IDPs and permission from a landowner to harvest bamboo for shelter. Another ministry has delivered over 300,000 pounds of rice to displaced families along the Thai border. In these and many other areas, the body of Christ is meeting displaced families with the compassion of Jesus.
To support the work of these team caring for IDPs from Rakhine, Chin, Shan, and Kayin States, please give below:
- Pray that the Lord would be a refuge and shelter for displaced families all over Myanmar, mercifully providing for their needs and ending conflict so they can return home.
- Pray for God to abundantly supply ministries meeting the displaced in their distress, filling these IDP communities with His compassion and hope.