Villagers Displaced by Myanmar Military Regime Infected With COVID-19

By The Irrawaddy 24 September 2021

At least 40 civilians displaced by fighting in Kayah State have been infected with COVID-19.

Hundreds of civilians from several villages in Demoso Township, Kayah State fled their homes following clashes between junta forces and Karenni resistance groups between September 7 and September 10. At least 40 of them have contracted coronavirus, and there are fears that more cases will emerge among the group in the future.

“They [the displaced people] are hiding in Demoso Township. We need medicines for those infected with COVID-19. As it is impossible to send them to healthcare facilities, they have to rely on home treatment. They desperately need medicine and food supplies,” said a volunteer helping the displaced people.

A makeshift shelter in the forest. / FBR Karenni

COVID-19 cases have surged in Kayah and hospitals are overstretched, according to volunteers. In some areas, displaced persons are too worried about the presence of junta soldiers to seek medical treatment.

With military tensions running high in Demoso and Loikaw townships, limited access to roads and tight security checks by junta forces, volunteers said that it is difficult to transport medicines and food supplies for the displaced people.

Civilians displaced by the fighting in Kayah State have to rely on aid donated by Karenni people living overseas and other individual and institutional donors. The aid is then distributed via the Karenni State Consultative Council.

The military regime detained two volunteers on September 12 and 19 respectively who were transporting medicine and food to displaced persons in Loikaw Township.

Kayah State has a population of 280,000 people, according to 2019 census data, and around 150,000 of them have been displaced by fighting over the past few months.

A makeshift shelter in the forest. / FBR Karenni

COVID-19 cases have previously been reported among displaced persons. Although some victims have access to hospitals, many others, especially those hiding in forests, have to rely on self-medication and treatment.

In the second week of September, 40 COVID-19 cases were reported at a monastery in Loikaw sheltering some 300 displaced persons.

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