Crisis in Myanmar

Myanmar remains in deep conflict that has torn the country apart politically, economically and socially.

Overview of the ongoing situation in Myanmar

What started as a conflict between ethnic Karen armed opposition groups and Myanmar’s armed forces (The Tatmadaw) in 1948 has evolved into the world’s longest on-going civil war. As the Tatmadaw sought to exert control over ethnic borderlands, millions of ethnic civilians have been systematically displaced and targeted. The conflict has intensified since the military coup in 2021, forcing thousands to take refuge on the Thai-Myanmar border.

These refugees identify as either Karen, Karenni, Shan, Mon, Chin, Arakanese, Chin, Kachin, Naga, or of many more ethnic nationalities

Note: These are umbrella terms and do not perfectly capture the complexity of how these ethnic peoples self identify

Situation in the camps

The refugee camps were first established in 1984, but thousands of people have not left since then are forced to be dependent on outside aid. Many people risk detention by secretly leaving the camps to find work as the external aid is insufficient.

Malnutrition, disease, limited access to educational opportunities, drug and alcohol addiction, and an alarming increase in suicide rates are just some of the rampant issues on the border.

Despite these circumstances, refugees have fostered hope and dignity by building community in the camps and continue to celebrate their ethnic culture, traditions, and festivals.

Political situation

On February 1st, 2021, Myanmar’s junta declared a year-long state of emergency and accused the National League of Democracy of widespread voter fraud from the democratic election in November of 2020.

With the country under martial law, mass protests emerged, demanding for democracy to be restored. Junta forces have committed mass killings, torture, sexual violence, and arbitrary arrest against countless civilians and political opposition members.

Violence and human right abuses have also escalated on ethnic borderlands with airstrikes and heavy artillery barrages displacing thousands more of Myanmar’s ethnic groups.

Learn more about the situation

We’ve collected some valuable sources that have reported on the situation for further reading and background knowledge of the ongoing situation in Myanmar.

Burma Link

More details on the historical and political context of the internal conflict in Myanmar as well as the situation on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Karen Education and Culture Department

Learn more about the organization we’re partnering with. The Karen Education Department is working to maintain and expand educational institutions for Karen people in the Southeast of Myanmar as well as in the Thai refugee camps.

Myanmar’s Killing Fields

In the west of Myanmar, the Rohingya people are fleeing from the violence and persecution being committed by Myanmar’s military. The Rohingya people are currently not recognized as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. 

Recommended reads

To learn more about the conflict in the Karen State:

  • From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe
  • Undaunted: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West by Zoya Phan
  • The Karen Revolution in Burma: Diverse Voices, Uncertain Ends (Policy Studies, 45) by Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung

To learn more about the Rohingya Genocide:

  • Myanmar’s Enemy Within by Francis Wade

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