‘Perfect storm of factors’: UN expert warns of deepening Covid-19 crisis in Myanmar, calls for international help | World News - Hindustan Times
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‘Perfect storm of factors’: UN expert warns of deepening Covid-19 crisis in Myanmar, calls for international help

By | Written by Srivatsan K C | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jul 14, 2021 10:15 PM IST

UN Special Rapporteur in Myanmar Tom Andrews said that those willing to help should do so before the country turns into a super spreader of the disease.

A United Nations rights expert has called upon the international community’s immediate assistance in tackling the Covid-19 crisis in Myanmar. He also listed three reasons, which he called the “perfect storm of factors”, that could potentially cause significant loss of lives in the country in the absence of emergency assistance.

In picture - People line up with their tanks to refill oxygen during the Covid-19 outbreak in Yangon, Myanmar.(Reuters)
In picture - People line up with their tanks to refill oxygen during the Covid-19 outbreak in Yangon, Myanmar.(Reuters)

“An explosion of Covid cases, including the Delta variant, the collapse of Myanmar’s health care system, and the deep mistrust of the people of Myanmar of anything connected to the military junta, are a perfect storm of factors that could cause a significant loss of life in Myanmar without emergency assistance by the international community,” UN Special Rapporteur in Myanmar Tom Andrews said on Wednesday in a statement by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Stressing the mistrust of the people in the junta, Andrews said that the international community “must help facilitate a non-junta, non-political body to coordinate a Covid response initiative that includes a vaccination programme that the people of Myanmar will trust.” He also said that the Myanmar military lacks the resources, capabilities and the legitimacy to control the crisis. “The crisis in Myanmar is particularly lethal because of the pervasive mistrust of the military junta,” he added.

Also read | Myanmar faces huge spike in daily Covid-19 cases, oxygen supply crisis

Andrews said that those willing to help should do so before the country turns into a super spreader of the disease. “Member states, international organisations, regional bodies and non-government organisations that are willing and able to provide much needed aid must do so before untold numbers perish and Myanmar becomes a super spreader of this deadly virus,” he said.

He called on the military to account for the $350 million, which Myanmar received as Covid-19 aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before the military took over power following a coup.

Concerns on over-crowded prisons

Vulnerable populations, including those in the country’s over-crowded prisons, are at greater risk, Andrews said.

“Myanmar’s prison population, including the thousands of political prisoners who have been arbitrarily detained since the coup, are in grave danger. Prisoners, particularly those with underlying conditions could see their detention become a death sentence,” he said.

“Myanmar’s neighbours are well placed to help and have a self-interest to do so, but there is no time to waste. Those with influence on junta leaders must immediately seek to secure their cooperation. The UN and others in the international community are positioned to provide immediate assistance to confront this rapidly deteriorating crisis,” he further said.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar government on Wednesday said that the country would receive six million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from China by August 2021, news agency AFP reported. The military government has bought four million doses and another two million would be donated by China, AFP said, citing a senior official from the country’s information ministry.

On February 1, the military deposed the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. The leader has since then been detained by the military. Many protests have erupted in the country against the rule of the junta, which have been strictly opposed by the military.

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