Covid surge is compounding hunger amid job losses, rising food and fuel prices, political unrest, violence and displacement
Children from a WFP beneficiary family having lunch at their home in an informal settlement in Hlaing Thar Yar Township, Yangon. (Photo: WFP)
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that its lifesaving operations in Myanmar are being held back by a major funding shortfall, with over 70 percent of its funding needs over the coming six months still unmet.
A massive wave of Covid-19 infections surging throughout the country is compounding hunger as families struggle amid job losses, rising food and fuel prices, political unrest, violence and displacement.
In April, WFP estimated that the number of people facing hunger could more than double to 6.2 million in the next six months, up from 2.8 million prior to February. Subsequent monitoring surveys carried out by WFP have shown that since February more and more families are being pushed to the edge, struggling to put even the most basic food on the table.
“We have seen hunger spreading further and deeper in Myanmar. 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,” said WFP Myanmar country director Stephen Anderson.
Starting in May, WFP launched a new urban food response, targeting 2 million people in Yangon and Mandalay, Myanmar’s two biggest cities. Most people receiving assistance are mothers, children, people with disabilities and the elderly. To date, 650,000 people have been assisted in urban areas.
More than 220,000 people have fled violence since February and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. WFP has reached 17,500 newly displaced people and is working to assist more in August. In total, 1.25 million people in Myanmar have received WFP food, cash and nutrition assistance in 2021 across urban and rural areas.
However, with US$86 million more required over the next six months, it is uncertain how far these operations can go.
“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,” Anderson explained.
“Now more than ever, the people of Myanmar need our support. We are deeply grateful for the backing of the international community — the people of Myanmar will never forget your generosity and solidarity.”
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