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Myanmar faces humanitarian crisis: UN

New York – Myanmar is facing a humanitarian crisis with about 3 million people requiring assistance, the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement on Monday.

The crisis was exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 and events following the detention of political leaders by the military in the country on Feb 1. Of the 3 million people that need humanitarian assistance, 2 million people have been identified since Feb 1, OCHA said, according to Xinhua.

The most vulnerable remain families living in urban and peri-urban areas, mainly in Yangon and Mandalay, as well as people affected by conflict in southeastern and western Myanmar, said OCHA.

More than 220,000 people have been internally displaced due to armed clashes as well as overall insecurity since Feb 1. The areas most affected include Kachin, Shan, Chin, Kayah and Kayin states and adjacent townships in Sagaing and Magway, it said.

While some families have returned to their places of origin, many continue to live in precarious conditions, including make-shift jungles and remote areas, often without access to basic services, including shelter and non-food items.

The situation in Rakhine State remains calm, although the situation remains dire. Food insecurity is becoming an evolving concern, with reports of food shortage in displacement sites and communities in northern Shan and Rakhine states, said OCHA.

The COVID-19 pandemic remains deeply concerning. As of Friday, more than 455,000 cases and 17,000 deaths have been reported. It is likely that the numbers are higher due to low testing capacity in-country, it said.

The United Nations and humanitarian partners have been working to respond to the impacts of the ongoing displacement, growing food insecurity and COVID-19. However, continued challenges in accessing people in need remain a fundamental challenge due to ongoing insecurity, bureaucratic impediments and disruptions to the banking systems/cash liquidity issues, it said.

Despite the challenges, the humanitarian response continues. Since May, the World Food Programme has supported more than 800,000 vulnerable people in its large-scale urban food response in Yangon peri-urban areas, said OCHA.

The 2021 humanitarian response plan for Myanmar, which requires US$276.5 million, is 47 per cent funded, it said.

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