2019–20 Myanmar highlights

In 2019–20, armed skirmishes continued to flare up across areas in south-east Myanmar where Saferworld works, and tensions simmered around Myanmar’s tenuous peace process.

In Karen and Mon states, in areas administered by ethnic armed organisations or under mixed governance control, we worked with our long-standing partners the Karen Human Rights Group and the Karen Women’s Empowerment Group to improve the accountability and responsiveness of the security and justice sectors, and to advocate for direct community engagement –by pushing for local governance officials, administrative departments, and police at village, township, district and central levels to jointly address safety and security concerns with communities.

Communities addressed a range of issues, including: difficulties accessing identity documents; damage to farmlands caused by factory waste; drug harm reduction; and the lack of village street lighting that affected women’s sense of safety when walking at night. In Bilin and Thahton, two community security committees brought together communities, civil society, and security and justice authorities in Karen National Union-controlled areas to collectively address issues experienced across several communities. Community policing workshops with the Karen National Police Force resulted in commitments by key leaders of the Karen National Union to endorse a community policing plan for rural communities.

Our research reports and policy briefs, including our November 2019 report Democratising Myanmar’s security sector: enduring legacies and a long road ahead, helped us develop Saferworld’s role as a technical resource for other organisations’ conflict analysis and strategic and programmatic design, as well as a policy resource for international communities. We also recognised the need to offer more advocacy and learning materials in local languages, and we produced resources in Burmese and Karen languages.

With the added complexities of COVID-19 – which is exacerbating insecurities and disparities in Myanmar – our support to locally led peacebuilding and institutional reform has become more urgent. We are adapting our programming to take into account the increased levels of gender-based violence caused by the impacts of COVID-19.


All publications from Myanmar