Close to half of Myanmar’s population could be living under the international poverty line of $1.10 a day, according to a report from a United Nations agency, of which the main causes are the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and the unrest from the military taking over Myanmar’s government.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report said that economic security is quickly shrinking in the country due to inflation, loss of wages and reduced health and human services, Western media reported.
The rising number of poor people in the Southeast Asian nation is the result of two extraordinary events: the Covid-19 pandemic and unrest that’s ensued after the military staged a coup in February.
According to UNDP estimates, the pandemic raised the poverty level from 24.8 percent to 36.1 percent. With the unrest and violence targeting unarmed civilians, the poverty rate jumps to 48.2 percent.
“By then, the shock from the crisis will have resulted in significant losses of wages and income, particularly from small businesses, and a drop in access to food, basic services and social protection,” the report said.
UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said the situation on the ground is dire.
“We have fractured supply chains, [disrupted] movement of people and movement of goods and services, the banking system essentially suspended, remittances not being able to reach people, social safety payments that would have been available to poorer households not being paid out. These are just some of the immediate impacts,” Steiner said.
The pro-democracy uprising has taken a toll on Myanmar. Activists at Assistance Association of Political Prisoners said 750 people have died from military violence and 4,500 have been arrested.
The population of internally displaced people is also on the rise.
The Karen Peace Support Network, a coalition of more than 20 Karen communities on the border between Thailand and Myanmar, said on Facebook that three air strikes Thursday forced villagers to flee to the Thai side of the border.
More than 8,000 people of the Karen communities could flee Myanmar, the group also said. SOVEREIGNPH