Humanitarian aid in Myanmar

The Red Cross is providing emergency healthcare to casualties caught up in political unrest as well as people affected by the deadly third wave of Covid-19. 

Political crisis and crumbling healthcare

Myanmar has been going through political crisis and widespread civil unrest since 1 February 2021.

Escalating violence and clashes between security forces and demonstrators have meant a steep rise in casualties in all 17 states of the country. Infrastructure is crumbling, including healthcare.

Now, Myanmar has been caught up in the deadly third wave of coronavirus, along with India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Already weakened, Myanmar is in desperate humanitarian crisis.

How is the Red Cross helping people in Myanmar?


Emergency healthcare


The Myanmar Red Cross is responding to casualties caught up in the violence and people affected by the deadly second wave of Covid-19.


With a healthcare system on the brink of collapse, the Myanmar Red Cross is supporting free clinics. Here, volunteer medical staff can provide basic healthcare to the community.


Volunteers have also set up 363 mobile first aid posts in across 194 townships. Since February, 2,000 volunteers have provided first aid services to more than 3,000 people.


To better respond to an unprecedented patient caseload and complex injuries such as gunshot wounds, the Myanmar Red Cross has had to train staff in Trauma First Aid. They have recruited and trained an additional 600 volunteers since February.


First Aid teams have treated major injuries such as gunshot wounds, and volunteers have been taking people to hospitals and medical centres in the Myanmar Red Cross’ fleet of 143 ambulances. Many people have needed urgent treatment before they arrive, including 64 pregnant women.


Over the next 12 months, the Myanmar Red Cross will continue to focus on the immediate and urgent medical need across the country. They aim to reach 66,400 people in desperate need.


Supporting the community  


Political unrest and the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on people's livelihoods. The approaching monsoon season, which spans mid-May to October, and the threat of cyclones is likely to plunge people further into poverty. 


The Myanmar Red Cross is working with local communities to distribute food and small cash grant to the most vulnerable. They are also racing to preparing coastal regions against floods and monsoons. These could wreak havoc upon 120,000 people.

Rakhine state sanitation project

Rakhine state is in the west of Myanmar on the border of Bangladesh. The communities who live there have already gone through so much, from ongoing violence, to extreme poverty and natural disasters such as flooding.

The devastating second wave of Covid-19 has made the situation worse. The poverty rate in Rakhine is twice the national average and health services are crumbling.

Around 26% of households have no running water and a further 31% of the state has no clean drinking water. Local lockdowns mean that finding work is virtually impossible.

Over the next year, the Red Cross is aiming to support vulnerable people across 40 villages to build their resilience to crises, including Covid-19.

Supported by the International Relief Fund, the Red Cross will be:

  • Working with local communities, teaching Covid-safe practices and first aid in at least 10 villages
  • Giving people access to water points and toilets
  • Providing small cash grants to particularly vulnerable households
  • Protecting against future emergency by boosting village emergency funds and preparing villages for future emergencies such as floods.

Can you help people in Myanmar?

Thanks to our Red Cross International Relief Fund, we are able to help vulnerable people in Rakhine state. But there so much more to do. 

  • £25 could buy one household vital supplies such as food and hygiene supplies

  • £30 could help one household build their own toilet and improve sanitation

Your donation could change lives.

Donate to the International Relief Fund

Cox's Bazar: the world's largest refugee camp

More than 740,000 people fled their homes in Myanmar after violence that began in August 2017.

Young and old arrived hungry, exhausted and with almost nothing. Most now live in cramped makeshift camps in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh. More than half are women and children who depend on international aid for their most basic needs.

During the monsoon rainy season, floods and landslides have destroyed hundreds of shelters. This is likely to get worse as the monsoon continues.

Dealing with this crisis has become one of the Red Cross’ biggest operations in the world. Now, people also face the threat of COVID-19.

What we’re doing to help

With our partners the Bangladesh Red Crescent, we are supporting more than 254,000 people with emergency aid. This includes food, clean water and medical care.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent run 11 health facilities including a surgical field hospital and mobile health clinics. Together, we have treated 232,800 patients.

We also give special help to children living in the camps without adults and families without husbands or fathers. People with disabilities and older people also get extra support.

Why toilets matter

Imagine a population almost equal to everyone who lives in Bristol and Bath suddenly having to leave home. They would need not only food and shelter, but also working toilets.

A team of British Red Cross specialists has been working in the camps since the crisis started to build toilets and promote good hygiene.

We have also built safe systems to treat human waste so it doesn’t cause disease.

Our partners the Red Crescent have distributed hygiene kits with soap and other essentials across the camps.

Hygiene promotion sessions, where families learn how to stay healthy in these difficult conditions, have reached 67,739 people.

As the monsoon rains bring even more risk of sickness spread by dirty water, all of this work is becoming doubly important.

Last updated 6 August 2021