GENEVA, Switzerland — The United Nations said Friday it urgently needed funds to feed people in Myanmar amid fears that up to 6.2 million could be plunged into hunger by October.
The UN’s World Food Programme said it was 70 percent short of the $86 million needed over the next six months, as the country goes through multiple crises.
A major wave of COVID-19 infections is surging through Myanmar, compounding hunger, rising food and fuel prices, political unrest, violence and displacement, the WFP said.
“We have seen hunger spreading further and deeper in Myanmar,” said the WFP’s Myanmar country director Stephen Anderson.
“Nearly 90 percent of households living in slum-like settlements around Yangon say they have to borrow money to buy food; incomes have been badly affected for many.” Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralysed since the military seized power from civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.
The country has experienced mass protests and a brutal military response since the coup.
The WFP launched an urban food response in May, targeting two million people in Yangon and Mandalay, Myanmar’s two biggest cities.
So far this year, 1.25 million people in Myanmar have received WFP food, cash and nutrition assistance.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva via video-link from the capital Naypyidaw, Anderson said the third wave of Covid-19 hitting the country was “practically like a tsunami”, creating “major havoc” and having a severe impact on people’s lives.
“The people of Myanmar are facing their most difficult moment in living memory. It is critically important for us to be able to access to all those in need and receive the funding to provide them with humanitarian assistance,” he said.