International Committee of the Red Cross

An inside look: Three months in northern Rakhine

Photo gallery 15 December 2017

It has been more than three months since violence broke out in northern Rakhine. During which time, the Red Cross Movement has been leading a dedicated humanitarian response, continuing to help 180,000 people in Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships. 

Travelling for hours by cars, boats and helicopters, or on foot, the Red Cross has around 200 staff that are helping reach remote communities. Some of the most vulnerable ones were left behind as over 600,000 people fled to Bangladesh.

"All communities in Rakhine continue to suffer in one way or another from the outbreak of violence," explains Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC head of delegation in Myanmar. "And ultimately, the solution to the crisis in Rakhine is not only a humanitarian one; it is a political one that will require long-term investment to rebuild peace and stability among the people."

The situation is now relatively stable, but it remains tense. People are still fleeing, and incidents of violence continue being reported. In some areas, not affected by the violence, our teams describe a sense of calm and normalcy, and people tell us that they can move safely; women are working at home, while the men are out selling fish.

In others, there is distinct tension, and movement is completely restricted so children cannot attend school. People who are sick cannot reach health clinics. Homes are crumbling, or there is nothing left where homes were burnt to the ground. As winter settles in, people are asking us for blankets.

Three months on, we are still reaching new communities in some of the most remote, mountainous areas of Myanmar, and help is badly needed. The need for humanitarian assistance remains very high. The Red Cross Movement is finalizing current commitments for the 2017 emergency assistance operation, yet despite this, Rakhine will remain a sensitive area, with significant potential for further violence to reignite.