The UN’s top humanitarian official in Myanmar said on Thursday the country’s people are living in “a severe crisis,” with a level of poverty not seen for at least 20 years.
In a virtual briefing for UN correspondents, Andrew Kirkwood said the number of people in the country needing aid has tripled to 3 million since the military takeover on Feb. 1, while a total of 20 million are living in poverty, or nearly half the population, AP news reported.
Speaking from Yangon, Kirkwood said the crisis is the result of increasing communal strife, the military ouster of the country’s democratically elected government and the coronavirus pandemic, which saw “a devastating third wave” of infections this summer.
“So, effectively, what we have here is a crisis, on top of a crisis with yet another crisis on top of that,” he said.
Since Feb. 1, Kirkwood said, the UN food and cash assistance program has reached more than 1.4 million people in rural communities all around Myanmar as well as in some urban and semi-urban centers.