Press Release

UNFPA welcomes release of Myanmar census data on religion

21 July 2016

YANGON, Myanmar — Data on religion from the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census has been made publicly available by the Government of Myanmar. UNFPA welcomes this release, which provides an opportunity for Myanmar to embrace its long history of cultural diversity and to promote the benefits of a truly inclusive society.

“It is time to replace speculation with fact. The peoples of Myanmar form a vibrant socio-cultural fabric with the power to forge hope of sustainable peace and respectful co-existence”, says Janet E. Jackson, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar. 

The census gives a comprehensive picture of Myanmar’s people – who they are, how many, and where they are – and their social and economic living conditions. The results are an essential tool for effective policy development, planning, decision making, and improvement to public services. They have proven hugely useful to Government, civil society and the private sector across a range of areas that benefit the population. For example, census data were instrumental to the coordination of relief efforts during the 2015 floods. New parliamentarians also use the data to better understand the social and economic needs in their constituencies.

However, an estimated 1.09 million people who wished to self-identify as Rohingya were not enumerated in the census. Most face severe restrictions to freedom of movement, depriving them of access to health services, education and employment. Many remain displaced from their homes. UNFPA recognizes their non-enumeration as a serious shortcoming of the census and a grave human rights concern, and regards it as critical that this and all rights are restored as soon as possible.

Notwithstanding this omission, it is clear from the report that people who identify as Buddhist make up the majority in all states/regions except in Chin, where there is a Christian majority. Also represented in the data are people who affiliate with Islam, Hinduism, Animism, “other religion” and “no religion”.

Conducted by the Government of Myanmar, the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census was the first census in Myanmar in over 30 years. Reaching nearly 98 per cent of the population, the census was an undertaking on a massive scale. It is one of the most participatory development efforts to date, with profound significance for Myanmar’s future, including its political and economic transition. In providing financial support and technical assistance to the census, UNFPA has helped ensure that international-standard quality controls are applied. Therefore, UNFPA is confident that the census data are reliable and objective.

Yoriko Yasukawa, UNFPA Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Region, has expressed hope that the census data will help all communities to work together to build an inclusive society that respects and values the rights and aspirations of all people in Myanmar – without exception.

Available for download:  2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census: Report on religion
 

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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

For more information or media inquiries please contact:
Yenny Gamming; Tel: +95- (0)9 2604 00005; gamming@unfpa.org