US holds Talks Over US$50 Million Aid Package to Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 12 August 2021

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has talked online with the renowned Myanmar physician Dr. Cynthia Maung about facilitating US$50 million in emergency humanitarian aid to the people of Myanmar.

Dr. Cynthia Maung has provided free healthcare services to vulnerable communities on the Thailand-Myanmar frontier for three decades. She is the founder of the Mae Tao Clinic based in the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

Dr. Cynthia Maung said that the ambassador discussed how they can work together “to facilitate providing assistance inside of Myanmar and how to strengthen the border healthcare system by providing cross-border aids”.

Different groups including the Mae Tao Clinic, community-based organizations and domestic and international non-governmental organizations shared their views with the ambassador and spoke of the work being done by ethnic health organizations in rural areas, the doctor told The Irrawaddy.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said on Tuesday during her visit to Thailand that the US is providing more than $50 million in critical humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable people of Myanmar, including refugees, internally displaced people and those forced to flee violence and persecution following the military’s Feb.1 coup.

She told reporters during a virtual press briefing on Wednesday that the aid is to provide emergency food assistance, life-saving protection, shelter, essential healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene services to vulnerable people from Myanmar, including over 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people.

“These funds will flow directly through international non-governmental organizations and our partners to meet the needs of vulnerable people, including those that are in the Thai-Myanmar border area,” said the ambassador. “And these funds will be used to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and meet the needs of people, including those at the Thai-Myanmar border.”

Dr. Cynthia Maung, who is also the leader of the parallel National Unity Government’s (NUG) COVID-19 Task Force, said she didn’t specifically discuss with the ambassador the prospect of the US providing coronavirus vaccines to Myanmar.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield visited Japan and Thailand this week to strengthen “alliances, deepen cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, and advance opportunities for peace, security, and stability in support of an open and free Indo-Pacific”. The US also provided US$5 million in aid to Thailand to help fight COVID-19.

She tweeted on Thursday that the US “is proud to support a robust COVID-19 and humanitarian response in the region”.

Myanmar is facing a deadly third wave of coronavirus, even as the country copes with post-coup economic turmoil and the people continue to reject military rule.

The ambassador added that the United States continues to engage with Myanmar’s full range of civil society organizations and pro-democracy groups and had recently held conversations with the NUG.

“The U.S. will continue to support all those working peacefully to restore Myanmar to the path of democracy and urge the military to cease its violent actions and release all those who have been detained,” said the ambassador.

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