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Updated On: Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Development Issues

Ten humanitarian crises to look out for in 2018

After a catastrophic year in which more than 655,000 people were driven out of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, it’s hard to imagine 2018 could go any worse for the Rohingya minority.

But, with nearly a million Rohingya refugees crowded into overloaded settlements in southern Bangladesh, the new year brings a host of new questions.

The sudden exodus of refugees captured the world’s attention, but as the crisis shifts from emergency response to long-term survival, will the focus – and funding – keep pace with the pressing needs on the ground? Can the fragile settlements withstand a significant storm, or even the seasonal monsoon rains that will fall in a few short months? And will the Bangladeshi and Myanmar authorities try to make good on a plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees despite warnings from any number of aid groups, rights monitors, and UN agencies, and a troubling history of less-than-voluntary returns?

 

 

While Rakhine State smoulders, long-simmering conflicts continue to fly under the radar elsewhere in Myanmar. Clashes between Myanmar’s military and ethnic armed groups in the country’s north have escalated, largely out of the public spotlight. In northern Kachin and Shan states, some 100,000 people have been uprooted since 2011, when a government ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army collapsed. Roughly 40 percent of these people live in areas outside government control. But Myanmar has also put limits on aid access to areas even under its authority, mirroring the more publicised restrictions in place in Rakhine. Buried somewhere is Myanmar’s long-stalled peace process involving myriad ethnic armed groups operating across the country. A new round of talks is set for later in January. But with only a handful of armed groups on board with a tenuous ceasefire agreement and other key players excluded entirely, a politically negotiated peace remains elusive.

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