On the morning of Monday 01 February 2021, the government of Myanmar was thrown into a political crisis. The ensuing waves of mass protest grew increasingly violent. The political crisis resulted in a collapse of public services and widespread armed conflict, impacting the lives of people living in urban centres as well as remote rural villages.
Communities where many ACT Alliance partners are working face massive impacts as a result of the combined emergencies of armed conflict and COVID-19. Market systems and food production systems are disrupted due movement restrictions imposed to prevent spread of COVID-19 and related to the conflict itself. In some parts of the country, farmers are not planting rice this monsoon season (May – October) because they fear that this substantial investment will just result in their crops being confiscated by the combatants. The banking sector has been severely disrupted and people are very cash poor. Food prices have started to skyrocket.
As of 01 June 2021, the situation has further deteriorated, and the needs have increased. Priority needs include food, shelter, and access to water and latrines. The lack of WASH facilities may lead to deadly diarrheal outbreaks and entire communities are vulnerable to COVID-19 because large numbers of displaced households are now sleeping together in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces such as churches and monasteries. Furthermore, cases of malaria have been reported among the displaced population sheltering in the jungle following the early arrival of the monsoons. Access to IDPs remains restricted due to ongoing fighting, remote muddy terrain, road blockages, and increasing landmine risks. Local partners and experts warn of a looming food security crisis if internally displaced persons (IDPs) are not able to return to their homes to tend to their crops and livestock. The full onset of the monsoon season in June will pose additional logistical challenges for humanitarian access. As the needs grow, local responders are increasingly stretched and require additional financial support to reach the most vulnerable among displaced communities.