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Poverty in Myanmar is at its highest level in 20 years, according to the UN


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Myanmar's top humanitarian official warned on Thursday that the country's people are in "serious catastrophe," with poverty levels not seen in at least 20 years.


Andrew Kirkwood told UN reporters in a video briefing that the number of people in need in the country has risen to 3 million since the military took power on Feb. 1, and that 20 million people, or nearly half the population, live in poverty.

 

Kirkwood, speaking from Yangon, blamed the problem on rising communal tensions, the military's overthrow of the country's democratically elected government, and the coronavirus pandemic, which witnessed a "devastating third wave" of infections this summer.


“What we have here, effectively, is a crisis on top of a crisis with yet another crisis on top of that,” he said.


According to Kirkwood, the UN food and cash assistance programme has reached over 1.4 million individuals in rural villages across Myanmar, as well as some urban and semi-urban areas, since February 1.

 

“We're saving lives,” says the narrator.
Kirkwood stated, "We are making a difference."
“However, we are disappointed that these figures aren't higher and that we haven't been able to contact all of the 3 million people who require immediate humanitarian assistance.”


In Myanmar, the acting UN humanitarian coordinator reported "severe operational hurdles" such as roadblocks and travel restrictions, pandemic limitations, and general instability.
All parties should “use their influence to ensure safe and unrestricted access for humanitarian workers and humanitarian supplies,” he said.


Another important aspect, according to Kirkwood, is the UN appeal's severe underfunding.

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