Monthly Report | January 2024

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Humanitarian Crisis Deepens Amidst Arakan | Frontline Escalations

Monitoring of a brief situation of political tension, economic issues, social issues, and humanitarian issues in Western Myanmar in January 2024.

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 Remarks

- The armed fighting on the Arakan military front has escalated to a higher level of confrontation. The Arakan Army (AA) holds an offensive position and has gained the upper hand in the conflict. In January, the AA seized control of the entire townships of Paletwa and the town of Pauktaw, and on January 20, they declared their full confidence in capturing the towns of Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, and Minbya. The junta's administration and control in Arakan have collapsed completely, leading numerous families and properties to relocate to Naypyidaw, Yangon, and the southern part of the state.

- Due to the armed clashes and political turmoil, the economic situation in Arakan has worsened significantly. Beginning with the junta's blockade of transportation and trade on November 13, 2023, the shutdown of internet and phone communications, along with the suspension of the banking system, have added further challenges and burdens to business operations.

- Crimes and theft have surged in many parts of the state, particularly in areas under junta control in towns and urban areas. People are facing increasingly difficult social experiences stemming from economic hardships. Universities in urban Sittwe, Kyaukphyu, and Thandwe are closed, while hospitals, health clinics, and infrastructure in many parts of the state are either inaccessible or lack necessary medical supplies.

- The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region now exceeds 0.3 million, which is more than 10 percent of the state's population. However, the delivery of humanitarian assistance is more challenging than ever. Local civil society organizations (CSOs) play a more significant role than UN and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), as they are more adaptable and resilient to the shifting political landscape. Innovative and flexible policy adaptations are needed to facilitate more effective humanitarian and emergency aid delivery to the needy population.

Table of Content

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

    In January 2024, the political and military news reported in local media platforms mainly covered the situations of armed clashes, civilian casualties and arrests, and the activities of the ULA and SAC.

    Regarding SAC-related news, it included surrenders, withdrawals, threats, attacks, arrests, reinforcements, and propaganda by the SAC military and police administration. On January 2, the regime conducted joint army, navy, and air force operations on Ramree Island. Subsequently, junta forces launched artillery shelling, triggering explosions in downtown areas of Minbya town. On the same day, 11 residents, including businessmen from Taunggoke, who were arrested by the military, were released, but there are reports among residents that they have to pay hundreds of thousands of kyats to the military council. Additionally, the junta increased its military presence in Kyaukphyu amidst escalating conflict near the Chinese project site.

    The next day, Myanmar military reinforced urban positions in several townships such as Sittwe, Kyaukphyu, Ramree, Ponnagyun, and Myebon. Around 150 junta soldiers who fled to India were also sent back to Sittwe. On January 5, it was reported that junta offices in Paletwa closed for security reasons amid fierce fighting. The Junta chief also met Chinese minister Sun Weidong in Naypyidaw. The following day, it was mentioned that the military council had increased the naval force to nearly three thousand in Arakan.

    As of January 7, Thandwe fishermen were prevented from going to sea for three days as the junta’s military exercise with Russia was planned. One day later, junta troops stationed near Mrauk-U town surrendered to the Arakan Army (AA) following an AA assault. The Myanmar military was reported to build new outposts in Kyaukphyu on the same day. On January 9, army families were moved to Yangon while the AA was occupying Paletwa. Two days later, the navy committed an arson attack on Taung Phu village of Pauktaw Township, and residents were in fear as an unexploded shell landed in Sittwe.

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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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