Where We Work

Introduction to Myanmar

This country of 135 ethnic groups hosts vast scenery, landmarks and traditions. One landmark in particular, the Shwedagon Pagoda, is a shimmering gold temple that’s covered in 4,500 diamonds and is believed to hold some strands of Buddha’s hair. Beyond scenery, traditions include eating tea leaves, using bark cosmetic paste, wearing longyi, and following astrology, shaping the lives of 54.4 million Myanmar people. 

Traditions, tourism and livelihood are impacted by decades of isolation and mismanagement. Most recently, a coup d’etat propelled the country back into military rule in February 2021. Ever since, the humanitarian situation in Myanmar is driven by long standing conflicts between the Myanmar Armed Forces and various armed insurgent groups. 

Nearly 1 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in Myanmar, with greater needs in the Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. After decades of violence in the Rakhine state against the minority Rohingya Muslim population, resulting in property loss, a large death toll and high incidences of sexual and gender based violence, over 700,000 Rohingyas have been displaced since August 2017. 

Protection is a key concern across Myanmar as armed conflict and violations of international humanitarian law by the national military and armed groups continue to impact civilians. Access to basic services are limited and livelihoods are threatened by conflict and lack of economic opportunity, particularly for the stateless Rohingyas. 

Why do the people of Myanmar need your support?

For people across Myanmar, life is incredibly challenging:

  • 50% of Myanmar’s population are in poverty (The Borgen Project, 2021)

  • 500,000 people in Myanmar are internally displaced, with 130,000 living in camps in the Rakhine state (iDMC, 2020 & OCHA, 2019) 

  • More than 730,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh (IOM, 2021) 

  • 9 million people, including 3 million children, have no access to a basic drinking water services (UNICEF, 2019)

Islamic Relief in Myanmar

Following an outbreak of violence in the Rakhine state that saw the displacement of 80,000 people in 2008, Islamic Relief arrived in Myanmar to provide immediate relief. In the same year, we worked to support Rohingya refugees in Teknaf, worked with the European Commission to distribute sanitation supplies, and responded to cyclone Nargis with emergency relief. 

Ever since, we have established a main office in Yangon and operate in the Rakhine and Kayin states. Islamic Relief Canada’s current programming includes health services, awareness sessions on the prevention of illnesses and diseases, vocational training, and WASH support. 

Islamic Relief Canada’s 3 current development projects aim to empower vulnerable households and communities for sustainable socioeconomic inclusion, livelihood security, financial inclusion and enhancing their WASH facilities, choice, protection and dignity as human beings. 

Our Multi-Sector Program is supporting over 200,000 vulnerable individuals in the Rakhine state through economic opportunities, health services, building a road, installing sanitation facilities and solar powered lights, as well as training self help groups to lead to income generation.

Your donations in action

Nu Narr is a 35 year old mother to 2 children, residing in the Baw Du Pha camp in Rakhine. During her recent pregnancy with her second child, she was admitted to the Sittwe General Hospital to receive a life-saving emergency operation.

Her husband is the sole breadwinner of the household, working full time as a manual labourer who spends most evenings asking for donations on the streets. He is unable to make ends meet most months. As a result, Nu Narr sought loans from neighbours and pawn shops amounting to 310,000 MMK or 230 CAD in order to receive emergency care. 

Post operation, Nu Narr had a difficult recovery and struggled to buy essential medication or pay for follow up health support. She spent most of her time on the streets asking for donations, with her newborn strapped to her front. 

Our team on the ground recognized Nu Narr, amongst other community members, and their urgent need for cash assistance. Nu Narr received the cash grant which helped to pay off her debt, immediately alleviating the burden from her shoulders. 

She gratefully shared, 

“Thank you so much for the cash support! If I did not receive this support, I would have faced many financial problems and further psychological impact. Now, I’m living happily with my family and my newborn child is super healthy!”

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