Myanmar opposition requests urgent UN help amid Covid-19 crisis

Bangkok Desk, Jul 19 (EFE).- Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG), in opposition to the military junta, has requested urgent humanitarian assistance from the United Nations to tackle the escalating Covid-19 crisis in the country.

The NUG, formed after the coup by politicians and activists opposed to the military regime, called for international emergency help to deal with the new wave of the virus that has “spiraled out of control with a death toll that is increasing daily under the mismanagement of the coup council,” it said in a letter to the UN on Sunday night.

The opposition group, which declares itself the legitimate government and maintains its loyalty to deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said that the official data issued by the military junta is just “the tip of the iceberg” due to lack of systemic data collection, limited testing and the inability to access and deploy vaccines.

On Sunday, 5,285 new cases and 231 deaths were registered, data that according to medical experts does not reflect reality. Since the start of the pandemic Myanmar has recorded 229,521 cases, including more than 5,000 deaths.

“Hospitals are running out of beds and refusing to treat Covid patients. There are growing reports on the shortage of oxygen, as well as the blatant and inhumane seizure of oxygen production facilities by the security forces,” the NUG said.

Despite the fact that the leader of the military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, assured last week that the production of oxygen was sufficient, official media has reported on specific supply problems, and photos of long queues of people waiting to buy it have been posted across social media sites.

On Monday, the official newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar published pages of stories and photographs touting the supply of oxygen tanks to hospitals and said that a Navy hospital ship will increase production.

The NUG also denounced that the military is persecuting health workers and using Covid-19 as a “weapon of war” against citizens.

The group warned that the epidemic in Myanmar could lead to a regional crisis and therefore urges the international community to act immediately.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo called for all to “come together” and put aside conflict to combat the “ferocity” of the epidemic.

“Thousands are infected, hundreds are buried unwept and unsung, hurriedly buried in crowded cemeteries. Day and night our people wait for oxygen in crowded streets,” the priest said in a letter.

“Please, please stop all the conflicts. The only war we need to wage is against the lethal invisible virus.”

After more than five and a half months since the coup, the junta has still not managed to gain support in the country and the security forces’ crackdown against dissent has left at least 914 dead, according to figures from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners. EFE


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