A new Save the Children report reveals the social impact of Myanmar's military coup since the military takeover unfolded in February.
Save the Children recently came out with an alarming report on the social impact of Myanmar's military coup, warning that while adults are struggling on various fronts, children are suffering from hunger and will start to succumb to disease and malnutrition very soon.
Many displaced people are living in the jungle through torrential rains without a proper shelter. They rely on donations for food and basic necessities, but access to them is also very restricted.
Here are four areas where the situation is extremely desperate.
206,000 people have been displaced across the country since the coup. More than 76,000 of them are children.
Kayah State in southeastern Myanmar has become a displacement hotspot. In September alone, around 22,000 people fled their homes in the state, and the number of people who are currently displaced has reached 79,000.
Demoso, a town in the Kayah State has been left completely empty after its entire population fled from violent clashes there in September.
A UN human rights envoy warned in June that the state could see “mass deaths from starvation, disease, and exposure”.
“As long as the violence continues, more families will be forced to flee in search of safety. We call on all parties to protect children’s rights and keep them out of harm’s way,” the report said.
“This goes beyond protecting them from the dangers of conflict – children need to get back to school, and they need support to process the trauma they have experienced. Myanmar children have shown incredible strength and resilience, but they cannot be expected to keep carrying such a heavy load.”
Most of the displaced people have fled to uninhabited hills and jungles for safety. They are now living in temporary shelters made of only tarpaulin and bamboo sticks to protect them from the torrential monsoon rain.
Pregnant women risk their lives to give birth in the forest after being forced from their homes in the escalating conflict.
A 33-year-old woman pregnant with her third child, will have to give birth outside without access to medical care.
“I cannot even describe in words the pain I feel. My delivery date is close, and I’m so worried about the baby because I’m living in this camp. I can’t even think about eating nutritious food, as we have to eat whatever we can get. I’m also worried about what I’m going to feed my baby after it’s born. All we have is donated food and we have to eat whatever there is – it’s not the right food for a baby.”
The hunger crisis
Access to food and life-saving services are blocked. Many families do not have adequate food supplies and are sharing just one meal between six or seven people per day. People were reported to have been living on only rice broth.
The coup has also driven child hunger. Save the Children warns that thousands of displaced children could go hungry without urgent food aid.
“While the world’s attention has moved on, a hunger crisis is unfolding in Myanmar. Tens of thousands of children across the country who have fled their homes are living outside in jungles or sheltering in temples,” the report said.
The World Food Programme estimated earlier this year that the number of people going hungry could more than double to 6.2 million. That's up from 2.8 million before the coup.
Many displaced families are relying on donations from local people and charities for food and essentials.
A volunteer at a displacement camp in Kayah State said reaching the donations is now a major concern for displaced families.
“In the beginning they received some donations from local people or charities that were helping people in the camps. But now donations are limited because people are being prevented from going to the camps. We got some bags of rice bags donated, and when we divided it, every household got just five cups of rice per family. That’s not much for a family of seven people to live off for long."
Due to ongoing conflict and restrictions on delivery of aid, aid agencies have also been unable to reach families in need in many parts of the country.
“Displaced families urgently need tents, food, clean water, medical care and sanitation. Our teams will continue doing everything they can to get children and their families the help they need, but we urgently need access to displaced families to deliver our life-saving services,” Save the Children said.