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Millions in Myanmar are on the brink of famine: UN

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Deputy Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq said job losses, increased food prices and currency depreciation are worsening the food crisis in Myanmar.

“The situation could worsen with the impending monsoon season putting pressure on infrastructure and transport, together with disruptions to banking services, not to mention the continued fighting in the country,” Haq said while addressing reporters.

Over the next six months, the Food and Agriculture Organization says “millions of people in Myanmar are expected to become hungry.” It is also expected that food insecurity within the country is predicted to rise sharply which could cause sections of the population to plunge into a food crisis.

Haq also underlined that the UN and its partners are working to address this through “food deliveries, support to farmers, and food security programmes targeting both newly displaced people and vulnerable rural host families.”

Crackdown on civilians

Since the February coup, Myanmar has evolved from a political crisis to a multi-dimensional human rights catastrophe, raising the possibility of state failure or a broader civil war.

“What began as a coup by the Myanmar military has rapidly morphed into an attack against the civilian population that has become increasingly widespread and systematic,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights.

The army has killed 900 people, and some 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to violent military raids on neighbourhoods and villages.

In Myanmar, the military has declared war on health care — and on doctors themselves, who were early and fierce opponents of the takeover in February. Security forces are arresting, attacking and killing medical workers, dubbing them enemies of the state. With medics driven underground amid a global pandemic, the country’s already fragile healthcare system is crumbling.

“The junta is purposely targeting the whole healthcare system as a weapon of war,” said one doctor on the run for months, whose colleagues at an underground clinic were arrested during a raid.

“We believe that treating patients, doing our humanitarian job, is a moral job….I didn’t think that it would be accused as a crime.”

Amid all the atrocities, the military’s attacks on medics, one of the most revered professions in Myanmar, have sparked particular outrage. Myanmar is now one of the most dangerous places on earth for healthcare workers, with 240 attacks this year — nearly half of the 508 globally tracked by the World Health Organization. That’s by far the highest of any country.

The military has issued arrest warrants for 400 doctors and 180 nurses, with photos of their faces plastered all over state media like “Wanted” posters. They are charged with supporting and taking part in the “civil disobedience” movement.

At least 157 healthcare workers have been arrested, 32 wounded and 12 killed since February 1, according to Insecurity Insight, which analyzes conflicts around the globe. In recent weeks, arrest warrants have increasingly been issued for nurses.

The Myanmar army seized power on February 1, after allegations of fraud in the general elections in 2020 and political tension in the country.

The army had detained many officials and ruling party executives, especially the country’s leader and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, and declared a state of emergency for one year.

As a result of the armed intervention of the Myanmar army against the anti-coup protesters and rebel groups, 902 people have lost their lives and thousands of demonstrators have been detained.

While demonstrations with large participation continue in the country, the trial of high-level government officials in military courts continues.

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