Myanmar had been making good progress in tackling poverty until two events – the military coup of February 2021, and the COVID-19 pandemic – saw that progress undermined.
Now, the country is facing a dire humanitarian and security situation, with civilians bearing the brunt of ongoing armed clashes between the Myanmar Military and Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) and various Peoples Defence Forces, as well as between EAOs, in multiple states and regions.
Late last year, a United Nations Development Programme study showed that while poverty in Myanmar had been declining since 2005, the combined effects of the pandemic and the military coup have pushed it back to pre-2005 levels, “effectively erasing the benefits of the pre-COVID-19 unprecedented economic growth”.1
Sixteen months on from the coup there are now more than one million people displaced in Myanmar, and the UN has warned of ongoing grim conditions, with the monsoon season under way and fighting continuing.2 At least 14 million people – a quarter of the population – now need humanitarian aid. 3 Hunger and malnutrition are on the rise and for families trying to make a living and provide for their families, daily life is increasingly stressful.
Tearfund Australia, alongside Tearfund UK, has been supporting the Karen Baptist Convention to provide cash relief to vulnerable families in Yangon, Bago and the Ayeyarwady region in Myanmar. This type of support means families have the opportunity to make their own decisions on how they use the cash they’ve received. More than 1600 families have been able to buy things like food and medicine, and access medical treatment.
Naw Daw War is a widow who lives in a small village with her four children. She earns a very modest income from casual work, and when the entire family contracted COVID-19, life was very difficult. Tearfund’s partner was able to help.
I am very happy to receive [cash support] in this difficult time, I will use that money to buy rice bags and food needs such as oil, eggs, vegetables and meat.
Her family was especially grateful for this generosity at a time when the whole world was facing a pandemic.
In addition to exacerbating food insecurity and malnutrition, the conflict has placed pressure on the government health system in Myanmar. Another Tearfund partner, World Concern Myanmar, is working to support a network of local NGOs and churches as they try to fill this gap and provide vital health care and resources.
Tearfund’s partners believe that peace — in communities, in homes, in hearts — is possible. Together, with your help, we can demonstrate relentless love to a world in conflict.
Conflict dominates the headlines. We can change the channel, swipe the app closed, look away. But for millions around the world, conflict is inescapable. It cuts the future short, crushes livelihoods, tears families apart. It deepens the impacts of poverty and injustice.
Yet in places of entrenched conflict, hope is resiliently pushing up through hard ground. This hope is anchored in God’s love, expressed by Tearfund’s local partners. Love that never gives up. Love that is full of hope. Love that endures. Relentless love.
You can help make peace possible for people living in conflict. Love relentlessly.