IDPs in remote communities in southeast Burma/Myanmar are struggling to survive. COVID-19-related restrictions on the freedom of movement in these areas—often under the administration of multiple ethnic armed organizations (EAOs)—make it almost impossible for villagers to access livelihoods, generating looming food shortages, exacerbated by the start of the rainy season. In response to these issues, HURFOM is publishing: “Left Behind and Destitute: How IDP Communities in Southern Burma/Myanmar Are Struggling to Survive during COVID-19” (English / Burmese).
Movement restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus have had severe economic consequences for Burma/Myanmar. On 28 April 2020, the Union Government launched its COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan, intended to alleviate the economic fallout caused by the pandemic. Among its seven goals and 76 actions, includes mitigation strategies aimed at the household level, including cash transfers to the most vulnerable and in need, including IDPs. Aung San Suu Kyi praised the plan, claiming it left no one behind. However, our data shows that some remote IDP communities are being left behind and in danger of experiencing severe food shortages.
Compounding these issues are the large numbers of returning migrants from foreign countries, themselves out of work due to stringent government restrictions enacted to curb the spread of COVID-19 and which are placing enormous pressure on communities in Mon and Karen states. Already stretched thin as they grapple with their own government’s orders restricting citizens’ movements and thus their ability to work and generate an income, these IDP communities are now faced with an increasing number of returning migrant workers who they must also support.