Monthly Report | December 2023

The Arakan Army seized arms, ammunition, and military equipment from the operational base of Myanmar’s junta forces in Rakhine (Photo/AA Info Desk)

Arakan in Crisis: Unraveling the Political Turmoil of December

Monitoring of a brief situation of political tension, economic issues, social issues, and humanitarian issues in Western Myanmar in December 2023.

About report

This report is part of the CAS's monthly series, which delves into four key areas of the state of Arakan. The first section addresses political concerns, including the armed revolution, junta activities, and issues of political freedom. The second examines the state's economic climate, focusing on rising prices, declining demand, foreign direct investment, and border trade. The third and fourth sections cover social and humanitarian issues, respectively; these include education, health, migration, and the internally displaced persons (IDP) population.

Key data in the report are sourced from local media outlets, such as DMG, Western News, among others. The aim of this report is to shed new light on the situation for observers endeavoring to comprehend the dynamics at play in the region.

Key Remarks

The rise of armed conflicts in Arakan politics during December is evident. The offensive attacks by the Arakan Army (AA) against military outposts increased simultaneously, leading to the military zone expanding into more urbanized areas. Pauktaw, Rambree, and Mrauk-U stand out as the most conflict- intensive towns, with a considerable percentage of the urban population in various townships being displaced or affected.

The economic state in Arakan has entered its worst phase in years. Trade, travel, and communication have been disrupted, and banks have either closed or reduced their transition activities. Additionally, the prices of commodities have tripled or quadrupled, exacerbating the shortage of available goods. This economic downturn disproportionately affects the poorest members of the communities, rendering them the most vulnerable.

The cruel implementation of the 'four cuts tactic' by junta authorities in Arakan has inflicted disproportionate harm on the civilian population rather than the AA soldiers. Civilians face a constant risk of being arrested by withdrawing junta soldiers, while the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) population is at a greater risk of losing lives due to the inability to access proper medical treatment. The frequent incidents of looting, robberies, and thefts have further increased community insecurity.

The reported total number of IDP population in Arakan since the resurgence of armed conflicts exceeds 200,000 across numerous townships. Unlike past displacements, even the elderly IDP individuals residing in urban areas are now displaced again into rural areas due to armed clashes in urban zones. The junta's heavy blockage on humanitarian assistance imposes additional hardships on the local IDP population, compounding the physical and psychological threats to the local residents.

Table of Content

  • Part- I: Political Affairs
  • Part- II: Economic Situations
  • Part- III: Social Issues
  • Part- IV: Humanitarian Issues
  • Part- I: Political Affairs

    During the month of December, political news in Arakan primarily revolved around military conflicts and their impact on the civilian population. Notably, these reports detailed the outbreak of armed conflicts between the junta forces and the Arakan Army (AA), AA's attacks on the junta forces, junta's targeting of the civilian population, and the significant repercussions on the civilians.

    Commencing with the junta's activities in Arakan, on December 1, reports indicated that locals discovered the abandonment of the Tin-Nyo police station in Mrauk-U township by the junta council’s soldiers and policemen. Simultaneously, fierce fighting ensued between the AA and the military as they contested control over Pauktaw.

    Two days later, in Ponnagyun township, approximately six houses in Kamaungtaw and Rerowpyin villages were set ablaze by junta soldiers. On December 5, there were widespread expressions that the junta was engaging in a war on the information space in the Arakan military battlefront. Consequently, a day later, it was reported that the junta was preparing to mobilize the Muslim population in the Maungdaw district by providing bags of rice.

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    The CAS is an independent, non-partisan and research-oriented group conducting research and analyzing issues related to Arakan/Rakhine affairs.

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