Conflicts & War

Myanmar resistance raised ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ since army coup

Singapore, Dec 20 (EFE).- Despite odds stacked against them, Myanmar’s opposition forces have “possibly” raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fund their campaign against the military regime, according to the International Crisis Group on Tuesday.

An ICG report, “Crowdfunding a War: The Money Behind Myanmar’s Resistance,” said that the Myanmar junta and the forces arrayed against it were locked in a battle over funding, both to raise their revenue and to deny their opponents access to the same.

The resistance has used new technologies alongside traditional mechanisms to get money and bypass regime restrictions on moving it.

“The mobilisation of funds, much of it in small individual donations from the diaspora, has been made possible by Myanmar’s digital revolution and the democratisation of financial services over the past decade,” the ICG report said,

The report said the junta’s financial reserves would play a big part in how the conflict in Myanmar unfolded and its adversaries’ ability to keep attracting donations.

“Regime restrictions designed to cut off funding to resistance forces are also harming aid groups, thus worsening the country’s humanitarian crisis.”

The report noted that the anti-junta rebels have relied on a combination of old and new approaches to bypass the regime’s banking controls.

They have also attempted to innovate with cryptocurrencies and the digital kyat, though these efforts have been less successful.

The report pointed out that the funds for anti-military resistance have come from two major sources: residents of Myanmar and the large diaspora.

“The (National Unity Government) NUG has been the largest single recipient of money, mainly from the diaspora, but hundreds if not thousands of smaller armed resistance groups have also benefited from donations raised independently.”

The report said that despite all the fundraising, resources remained “very limited.”

“Some evidence also suggests that donations are gradually declining, due to a combination of donor fatigue and global economic woes.”

As a result, resistance groups had to be careful with their spending, and most gave preference to buying weapons, on the basis

that building up military capacity will lead to a quicker victory, alleviating popular suffering, and that civilians need protection from regime forces.

The ICG suggested that, given the growing constraints on the delivery of humanitarian aid, donors needed to approach local partners directly, potentially adjusting regulations that are unduly burdensome for these groups.

“Funding will be an important factor shaping the conflict’s trajectory,” the report said.

“The junta, despite strenuous efforts, has been unable to stop money and other resources from reaching resistance groups, mostly due to the ubiquity of unregulated informal remittance systems that are largely outside of its control.”

It warned that fatigue may set in among the diaspora that had contributed much of the financial support to the NUG and other anti-military groups, particularly as it appears unlikely that the resistance will succeed in ousting the regime. EFE


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