World UN report says Myanmar poverty could double from coup chaos
Urgent action on Myanmar is needed but engaging the junta at the Southeast Asian leaders meeting is a risky gamble
The international community is putting its hopes on a meeting between Southeast Asian leaders this weekend to reach a breakthrough on stopping the violence in Myanmar, as the country's ruling military junta continues its brutal and bloody suppression of civilian opposition. © Jepayona Delita/Jefta Images/Barcroft Media/Getty Images Indonesian bikers during a protest against the Myanmar military coup outside ASEAN secretariat building in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 17.
BANGKOK (AP) — Political turmoil and disruptions following the coup in Myanmar could undo years of progress and double the number of its people living in poverty to nearly half the population, a United Nations report said Friday.
The report by the U.N. Development Program, or UNDP, said 12 million people could fall into dire economic straits as businesses remain shuttered in a standoff between the junta and a mass civil disobedience movement.
Myanmar people slam ASEAN-junta consensus to end violence, but no immediate protests
Myanmar people slam ASEAN-junta consensus to end violence, but no immediate protestsThere were no immediate protests in Myanmar's big cities a day after the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Jakarta, Indonesia, that agreed to end the violence but gave no roadmap on how this would happen.
“The hardest hit will be poor urban populations and the worst affected will be female heads of household," Kanni Wignaraja, the UNDP's assistant secretary-general for the region, told The Associated Press via a Zoom recording.
The Feb. 1 coup wrested power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained along with more than 3,400 other people. Since then, the military has severely restricted internet access and gradually stepped up violent repression of protests.
Obama urges the world to keep paying attention to Myanmar and the 'heartbreaking violence against civilians'
Hundreds have been killed in Myanmar and thousands detained since a military coup that ousted the civilian government in February."The world's attention must remain on Myanmar, where I've been appalled by heartbreaking violence against civilians and inspired by the nationwide movement that represents the voice of the people," Obama said. "The military's illegitimate and brutal effort to impose its will after a decade of greater freedoms will clearly never be accepted by the people and should not be accepted by the wider world.
Many factories, offices, banks and other facilities have closed and trade has been disrupted by work stoppages and other disruptions at ports, economists and others familiar with the situation inside Myanmar say. That has worsened already bleak conditions due to the pandemic.
The UNDP said conditions could deteriorate by early 2022 to a level of poverty last seen in 2005.
The economy grew rapidly after a previous military regime initiated a partial transition to a civilian government, while keeping control of key ministries and industries and seats in parliament.
Myanmar Fast Facts
View CNN's Fast Facts on Myanmar, and learn more about the country in southeast Asia formerly known as Burma. © Provided by CNN coren myanmar flooding_00000113.jpg About Myanmar(from the CIA World Factbook) Area: 676,578 sq km (slightly smaller than Texas)Population: 57,069,099 (July 2021 est.)Median age: 29.2 yearsCapital: NaypyidawEthnic Groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%Religion: Buddhist 87.9%, Christian 6.2%, Muslim 4.3%, Animist 0.8%, Hindu 0.5%, Other 0.2%, None 0.1% (2014 est.)Unemployment: 4% (2017 est.
Foreign investment in garment manufacturing, tourism and other industries helped create millions of jobs, providing a lifeline of support for many families living in rural areas.
But that progress has ground to a halt as the coup added to troubles from the pandemic.
“With the effects of the political crisis, we could see these gains removed in just a few months," Wignaraja said.
The research agency Fitch Solutions has forecast that the economy will contract 20% in the current fiscal year, which ends in September. In a report released last week, economist Jason Yek noted that food insecurity is rising due to hoarding and inflation, while people struggle to access cash to pay for necessities due to the closure and cash limits put on ATMs.
A weakening of the Myanmar kyat to about 1,600 kyat per dollar from about 1,350 kyat before the coup also hinders the country's ability to import much needed medicines and other supplies.
“We really cannot rule out any worst-case scenario," Yek said in an online briefing.
So far, foreign governments and businesses have sought to levy pressure on Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and others in the junta through targeted sanctions meant to cut off financial support to the army, or Tatmadaw.
Tokyo 2020: 'Genocidaires do not deserve to be in the Olympics,' Myanmar swimmer Win Htet Oo
A leading Myanmar swimmer has called for the country's Olympic committee to be expelled from the Olympic Movement, saying "genocidaires do not deserve to be in the Olympics."A leading Myanmar swimmer has called for the country's Olympic committee to be expelled from the Olympic Movement, saying "genocidaires do not deserve to be in the Olympics.
The UNDP report's findings suggest that ordinary people already are suffering regardless of sanctions.
The magazine Nikkei Asia Review said Thursday that the group Independent Economists for Myanmar issued a report urging the targeting of sources of foreign exchange, such as Myanmar's exports of natural gas, its biggest revenue earner, and of gems and jade.
Sanctions could freeze deposits linked to the state-owned Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank, it said.
It said targeting the junta's sources of hard currency with international sanctions could reduce its revenues by roughly $2 billion annually.
It said the military was prioritizing spending on weapons and security operations over providing desperately needed public services.
The U.S. recently ordered sanctions against the company that controls most of Myanmar's gems, pearls and jade sales, though a huge share of that trade is done illicitly.
So far, foreign energy companies involved in Myanmar's natural gas industry have resisted calls for them to stop paying revenues to the government, saying such moves might endanger their employees and hurt access to already scarce electricity.
China Throwing Support Behind 'Diplomatic Efforts' to End Myanmar Coup .
Myanmar has seen violence and protests since February, when the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and reversed years of progress toward democratic rule."It's mainly an issue relating to the difference on the election," Zhang Jun said, according to the Associated Press. "The political parties should be able to find a solution on that. So that's why China prefers...more diplomatic efforts.