Recent headlines on Myanmar have centred on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the country's stuttering media reforms, but the much graver reality that has been largely absent from news coverage was outlined earlier this month in a snapshot report published by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Almost a quarter of a million people have been internally displaced in the country's recent conflicts. Heavy fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar military) in Kachin state has displaced 99,000 people. In Rakhine state, troubled by continuing communal violence, 137,000 people have been internally displaced, half of whom don't have secure access to food.
Medicins Sans Frontière was earlier this year banned from working in Rakhine state (it has since been allowed to return). Riots against international aid agencies earlier in the year in the troubled state have also impeded health services and food distribution before the wet season (as explained earlier on these pages). The number of health clinics in the state almost halved between February and July this year (from 1560 to 830). Flooding and heavy rain have also imperilled internally displaced people in already fraught situations.
These reports come as the latest Global Humanitarian Overview puts 2014 as one of the worst years in living memory for humanitarian crises around the world. According to the report, some 102 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, a 20% increase since December 2013.