Rights Group Urges Myanmar to Protect IDPs from Coronavirus

03/30/2020 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – Although Myanmar claims to have only 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19, many question the government’s ability to reflect the actual situation and its capacity to protect its citizens, especially those who live in IDP camps, given its poor health care system.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch warned about the vulnerability of around 350,000 people across Myanmar living in camps for internally displaced persons in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, especially due to the lack of access to healthcare measures.

“Years of conflict, neglect, and abusive policies by Myanmar’s government and military have left hundreds of thousands of displaced people sitting in the path of a public health catastrophe,” HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said in a statement on Monday.

The overcrowded condition of displaced communities in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan, Chin and Karen states poses as a risk factor for the possible expansion of the new coronavirus, and the limited access of IDPs to health, water or hygiene among other essential services and flagged restrictions imposed by authorities on humanitarian aid, the internet and movement of the IDPs is equally concerning, according to the NGO.

“Authorities must ensure that these people have access to information, humanitarian aid and health services, including rapid tests and the isolation of those who show symptoms of COVID-19 infection,” Adams said.

The Christian-majority Kachin IDPs living in Kachin and Chin states, along with Chin Christians living in Rakhine state, are among the most vulnerable to this disease, given the lack of adequate resources and healthcare. They have already been living in challenging conditions given the ongoing armed conflicts. The spread of COVID-19 could easily threaten the lives of tens of thousands IDPs.

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