News ID: 281085
Published: 0107 GMT February 26, 2021

Relief programs hit by ongoing crisis in Myanmar, UN humanitarian office says

Relief programs hit by ongoing crisis in Myanmar, UN humanitarian office says
A 12-year-old child fetches water for his household at an IDP camp in Kachin state, Myanmar.

The political unrest in Myanmar has impacted the ability of humanitarians to respond to the needs of vulnerable communities, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country’s conflict-affected areas, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Factors such as closure of banks, interruptions to payments and cash withdrawal systems, and reported increase in price of basic commodities like food and fuel in some areas, have affected relief efforts, according to a bulletin issued by the Office. Changes in counterpart entities and interlocutors, as well as access issues have also affected programs, reported.

Relief actors are working to resume activities that have been paused in some parts of the country and the humanitarian community is committed to stay and deliver support to those in need, the bulletin noted, citing the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator.

“The UN and its partners have, for many years, been responding to humanitarian needs caused by conflict and natural disasters in Myanmar. It is our absolute intention to continue this work also under the current circumstances”, Ola Almgren said earlier this month.

According to OCHA, separate from the political strife, about one million people — affected by conflict and natural disasters — are in need of support and protection. Of that number, about 945,000 have been targeted for assistance through 2021, as outlined in a $276.5 million Humanitarian Response Plan, launched in January. 

However, only $693,000 — less than 0.3 percent of the amount needed — has been raised.


Humanitarian access ‘remains constrained’


The Office said that humanitarian access, which was already challenging before the military takeover on February 1, “remains constrained” due to safety concerns and administrative procedures, such as travel authorizations.

Access to parts of Shan, Kayin and Bago region have been affected due to clashes, while at least a third of the displacement sites and half of the host communities in Rakhine state cannot be reached due to insecurity, OCHA added, reiterating the importance of safe and unimpeded access to deliver a timely and principled humanitarian response.

UN officials as well as bodies, including the Security Council, have also highlighted the need to ensure safe and unrestricted humanitarian access to all people in need.


‘Deep concerns’ over increasing detentions


Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, voiced “deep concerns” over an increasing number of people held in detention in Myanmar.

At least 150 people are reported to have been arrested in protests in capital Nay Pyi Taw on February 22, he said at a regular press briefing at the UN Headquarters, in New York.

“The UN team is currently tracking more than 900 political and state officials, activists and civil society members — including journalists, monks and students — now being detained”, he added.

Mass protests have grown steadily across Myanmar since the military takeover, which followed escalating tensions between the government and the military over the November 2020 elections, which were won by Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD).

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