COVID-19 Response: Myanmar Update
NP staff and community leaders are leaning on the strong relationships we have built over years of engagement and continued training on civilian protection. Pictured: Community member leading a COVID-19 awareness session
Myanmar shares a border with China, the original epicenter of the pandemic. Our teams heard preliminary reports of COVID-19 starting as early as January 2020, with the first COVID-19 case officially confirmed in late March 2020. The country has since restricted travel and is closing its borders in response to the pandemic.
Many community members are scared of violence and want to evacuate – but now, with travel restricted to prevent the spread of the virus, villages are being shut down and many others are stuck in camps for displaced persons. With the lockdowns, humanitarian groups do not have the access they need to provide the most basic of resources, such as food and medicine. One woman explained: “We are not scared of COVID-19, we are scared of conflict.” So many civilians are caught between the fear of violence and the fear of the virus – a choice that no one should ever have to make.
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Our team quickly adapted and we are now working remotely and connecting with community leaders over video chats. This way, we are able to continue to support communities across the country over the phone and via computer. This is a clear result of your investment in peace: supporting communities from afar during the current health crisis would be impossible without the relationships we have been building over the past 6 years.
You have supported our program to train emerging women leaders on community organizing. Now, a group of emerging women leaders have translated COVID-19 prevention education materials into their local language. They stay connected with our staff and other emerging women leaders through Facebook chat groups and Zoom to share ideas across the conflict-affected regions.
You have supported a group of community members who have been strengthening the ties between people in their community. Now, this group is building on their work on resiliency. You have helped empower them to face COVID-19 together.