Bangkok, Jun 8 (EFE).- The Myanmar Red Cross warned Tuesday that there are 236,000 people who need urgent help throughout the country and the organization is to ramp up its humanitarian response to the growing crisis unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic and aggravated by the military coup.
“Covid-19 has caused immense economic hardship across Myanmar in the past year. The current crisis has led to further social and economic upheaval. Many people are struggling to earn an income and have very limited access to basic services such as health care,” said secretary general of the Myanmar Red Cross, Htin Zaw Soe, in a statement.
The agency’s plan, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross Societies, is to provide assistance to “people who face worsening poverty, including immediate food relief, and cash assistance that enable people to buy produce locally, in turn stimulating local economies.”
It warned that factory and business closures are indicative of an emerging economic crisis with thousands of people out of work and noted that those living without income in informal settlements in urban areas are particularly vulnerable.
The economic crisis, unleashed last year by the pandemic, has increased since the military uprising on Feb. 1, with a strong anti-junta movement of civil disobedience, which has crippled the administration and part of the economy.
“With a steady increase in humanitarian needs we are preparing for what could become a protracted crisis. This means scaling up both immediate and longer-term support while also factoring in the limited Covid-19 prevention efforts in the country,” said the IFRC’s head of delegation in Myanmar, Joy Singhal.
The political chaos caused by the seizure of power by the military command and the dissent against the junta has left the country, already with a precarious health system, particularly vulnerable in the face of the new wave of Covid-19 that is sweeping through Asia.
At the end of May, an IFRC source told EFE that the country currently lacks a systematic Covid-19 testing system, vaccinations have slowed significantly and the capacity to monitor and track infections is diminished.
At least 857 people have died since the coup due to the security forces crackdown against peaceful demonstrations in opposition to the military command, according to figures from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, which also counts more than 5,800 arrests. EFE