Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Sets Up COVID-19 Committee with Rebel Armies

By Nyein Nyein 28 April 2020

Myanmar President’s Office has formed a coordinating committee to work with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to contain the spread of COVID-19 in territories controlled by the groups.

The four-member committee formed on Monday will share information and work on the prevention, containment and treatment of coronavirus.

Since March the Karen National Union, Restoration Council of Shan State, United Wa State Army, Mong La’s National Democratic Alliance Army and Kachin Independence Army have been providing health checks and COVID-19 awareness in Karen, Shan and Kachin states respectively. As the EAOs are based along the borders with Thailand and China, they have already played a key role in contributing health care awareness to migrant returnees.

U Khin Zaw Oo, the secretary of the government’s Peace Commission (PC), told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the commission had been collaborating with EAOs long before the new committee was formed. It had been communicating with the Mong La group to place returnees from China into quarantine; providing food and negotiating with the Shan State government for them to return after completing their quarantine.

“The committee is established to be more like a task force to work effectively,” U Khin Zaw Oo added.

Dr. Tin Myo Win, the vice-chairman of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC), leads the committee and U Khin Zaw Oo, who is also a retired lieutenant general, is its vice-chairman. U Hla Maw Oo, the deputy ethnic affairs minister, is the secretary of the committee, and U Moe Zaw Oo, an adviser to the PC, is also a member.

The President’s Office said the government is cooperating with donors, volunteers, civil society groups and members of the public in response to COVID-19 in a “no-one-left-behind policy”, regardless of ethnicity, religion or location.

As of Monday, Myanmar has 146 confirmed COVID-19 cases after testing 6,872 people with five deaths and 16 recoveries.

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