Persecution and inter-communal conflicts, particularly since 2012, in Myanmar's Rakhine State have forced thousands of ethnic Muslims from Myanmar to flee and seek refuge in neighbouring countries. From 10 May to 30 July 2015, at least 5,543 persons from Myanmar and Bangladesh arrived in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. From September to December 2015, at least another 1,500 persons departing from Myanmar or Bangladesh have arrived in Thailand. Most migrants arrived exhausted, traumatized, undernourished and suffering from severe dehydration. In addition to the immediate provision of healthcare, the provision of tailored support for residual needs was critical, including health, psychosocial assistance, nutritional support, sanitation, shelter and the provision of NFIs.
Since 2013, IOM has supported the delivery of short-term, life-saving humanitarian aid to more than 3,000 Muslims from Myanmar and special at-risk groups detained in the Immigration Detention Centres (IDCs) and Shelters in Thailand. It is critical to continue to respond to ongoing humanitarian needs, particularly those health needs resulting from the continued and indefinite detention of approximately 160 Muslims from Myanmar and special at-risk groups. Despite the reduction in number of affected migrants, Muslims from Myanmar and special at-risk groups are detained in IDCs and shelters with a range of issues, including poor ventilation, lack of adequate food, and little to no access to regular exercise and natural light. IOM has also identified cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorder. Stress and depression amongst detainees are particular areas of concern amongst those detained in the IDCs.
IOM is the lead agency in the provision of humanitarian assistance to Muslims from Myanmar and special at-risk groups temporarily detained in IDCs, Welfare Protection Centres for Victims of Trafficking, and Shelters for Children and Family in Thailand. A critical aspect of IOM's intervention is the access of IOM’s healthcare workers in the affected provinces and locations. IOM’s health team provides basic medical services and health assessments for Muslims from Myanmar and special at-risk groups in all IDCs and shelters. With the onset of IOM’s intervention, no further health-related deaths were reported in detention and there were no major outbreaks of disease since 2013.