Burma/Myanmar in brief
|Capital:||Naypyidaw (since November 2005, formerly Yangon)|
|Population:||51,486,253 (2014 census)|
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a Southeast Asian nation that is neighbouring India and Bangladesh to the Northwest, China in the Northeast, Thailand and Laos to the Southeast, and the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to the Southwest and South. In 2014, the latest national census officially counted a population of nearly 51.5 million for an area of 676.000 km2. The country is divided into 14 States and Regions and has 135 officially recognized ethnic groups, corresponding to eight major groups.
More to 50 years of military rule and ethnic conflict have plunged Myanmar into long-term poverty and isolation. Fortunately, a democratic transition began in 2010 with the election of a civilian government, although the military kept a 25% share in key positions. Dramatic change has then occurred including important reforms, the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on the country. In November 2015, the National League for Democracy – Aung San Suu Kyi’s party – won the general elections and a new NLD-led government was formed on 30 March 2016. Recent efforts to broker peace, including through the signature of a nationwide ceasefire agreement in October 2015, are other signs of progress.
At the same time, armed clashes between Myanmar’s Armed Forced and ethnic armed groups continue, especially in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine States. More than 100,000 refugees (mostly from the country’s southeast) are still living in Thailand. Besides, inter-communal violence has erupted in 2012 in various parts of Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine State, with heightened tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities. Lastly, the country’s economic transformation, however promising it is, remains fragile and filled with obstacles that affect the economic, social and cultural rights of the population.
People in Need (PIN) is working in Myanmar since 1998 and reestablished the office in 2012, with program areas primarily focused on knowledge transfer, skills development and support to local initiatives. Through its Civil Society Program, PIN supports civil society organisations that play a critical role in bridging the gap between communities and local governments and contribute to policy dialogue and the strengthening of a democratic culture based on human rights. Other programs include a Social Cohesion Program, which aims at promoting civil action in communities affected by inter-communal violence in Kayin, Mon and Rakhine States; and a Child Protection Program, through which community-based and school-based child protection mechanisms are set up in Mandalay region, Sagaing region and Shan State.