Following the military coup in Myanmar, millions of people are threatened by hunger in the crisis-ridden country, according to UN figures.
Up to 3.4 million people in the country of 54 million might not have enough to eat in the next six months, in addition to the 2.8 million who already suffered from lack of food security before the coup, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Thursday.
“More and more poor people have lost their jobs and are unable to afford food,” said WFP country director Stephen Anderson. “A concerted response is required now to alleviate immediate suffering, and to prevent an alarming deterioration in food security.”
Myanmar has been sliding deeper into chaos since a military coup in early February. On Thursday, there were again nationwide protests against the junta.
In recent weeks, the military has reacted with brutal harshness to any resistance. According to estimates by the prisoners’ aid organization Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), at least 739 people have died so far, and more than 3,300 are currently in detention.
However, the situation has been somewhat calmer in recent days. Observers believe the army is exercising restraint ahead of a summit meeting of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta on Saturday.
“At the moment, the generals are making a fuss about the meeting,” Oliver Esser, a German chef who has lived in Myanmar for decades, told dpa. After that, however, things will probably really get going, the 59-year-old fears. “It’s total dictatorship.”
Meanwhile, it has been announced that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will not attend the summit. They will be represented by their foreign ministers.
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Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, on the other hand, is expected to attend, despite strong criticism from human rights organizations.
ASEAN plans to discuss the crisis in member state Myanmar while in Jakarta and meet in person despite the coronavirus pandemic.
There was already an online meeting of the foreign ministers of the confederation at the beginning of March.