Deep in south-east Asia sits a country where 54 million people are living a total nightmare. A nation that, benighted for decades, now faces a humanitarian catastrophe.
Myanmar – otherwise known as Burma – has been hit by a quadruple whammy: a military coup, a half-century long civil war reignited with a vengeance, economic collapse and coronavirus. It faces a dire humanitarian emergency fuelled by coup, collapse, civil war and Covid.
Since the coup on 1 February, over 900 people have been killed by the army and over 5,000 jailed. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced after the military unleashed an aerial bombardment on ethnic minorities on a scale not seen for years.
Activists are facing what the United Nations calls a ‘brute force terror campaign’, while children endure an onslaught that the UN Child Rights Committee (CRC) says risks leaving an entire generation damaged.
At least 75 children have been killed, 1,000 detained and countless more denied medical care. Children are held in police stations, prisons and army camps. Among them is a five year-old girl whose father demonstrated against the coup. Other children have been taken hostage. Some children have been killed at home, including a six year-old girl shot dead in her father’s arms.
‘Children in Myanmar are under siege and facing catastrophic loss of life because of the military coup,’ said CRC Chair Mikiko Otani. ‘If this crisis continues, an entire generation of children is at risk.’
On top of this comes Covid.
Myanmar weathered the early waves relatively well. Not now. Today people defy curfews to seek oxygen, cemeteries and hospitals are overflowing, and the sick die at home.
Myanmar’s health system was rudimentary at the best of times.