UPDATED 7:11 PM PT – Saturday, July 31, 2021
It has been almost six months since the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, has seized power. Since the coup, the United Nations have called it a “multifaceted crisis.”
British Diplomat Barbara Woodward explained, “what started as a political coup has now become a multifaceted crisis with political, economic, health and humanitarian dimensions.”
Woodward said the conflict has escalated, with more than 5,000 people detained. She added the spread of COVID-19 was also concerning.
“The coup has resulted in a near total collapse of the healthcare system and healthcare workers are being attacked and arrested,” she expressed. “The virus is spreading through the population very fast indeed, by some estimates in the next two weeks, half of the population of Myanmar could be infected with COVID.”
This week, Security Council members will hear directly from voices the military has tried to silence on how to address the crisis and including making vaccines available to all.
— Ambassador Barbara Woodward (@BWoodward_UN) July 28, 2021
The country, which is located in Southeast Asia, has been struggling to gain back control since the military took control and declared a year-long state of emergency. Protests since then have involved government workers, teachers, lawyers and students.
In addition, COVID-19 has surged through the country, with unrest stemming from residents and activists who have said the military has been using the pandemic to “consolidate power and crush oppression.” Medical oxygen supplies have reportedly ran low and the government has stopped distributing personal protection equipment and masks.
The United Nations in Myanmar is stepping up its #COVID19 response amidst alarming spike in reported number of cases in recent weeks. We are working to address the oxygen shortage, vaccination availability & re-operationalize testing & treatment.
— United Nations in Myanmar (@UNinMyanmar) July 19, 2021
According to reports, anyone who showed support for the democracy movement have not been allowed to be treated in hospitals. This comes as a senior U.S. diplomat has reportedly asked the U.N. Security Council to press the Myanmar military to “stop violence” as well as suggested with COVID-19, a delay in action could cause more deaths.
The U.S. ambassador said the military crackdown from the coup has displaced “hundreds of thousands of people and up to 2.8 million additional people may be facing food shortages.” Many are calling for action and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been set to meet with Southeast Asian officials next week to discuss impending topics, including the crisis in the country.