MYANMAR'S POLITICAL CLIMATE
A coup d’état in Myanmar began on the morning of 1 February 2021, when democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were deposed by the Tatmadaw—Myanmar’s military. The Tatmadaw proclaimed a year-long state of emergency and declared that power was transferred to Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services, General Min Aung Hlaing. The COVID-19 pandemic in the first, second and third waves and the military coup have pushed Myanmar to the brink of becoming a failed state.
In the last 6 months, countless organizations have left Myanmar due to the resulting instability from the coup and the COVID-19 Pandemic, many NGOs have been targeted and much humanitarian AID has been prevented entry. With few organizations on the ground to help those in need of food, medicine, and other forms of aid, we have witnessed more desperation, starvation, crime, poverty, joblessness, and higher rates of trafficking than ever before.
CIVIL WAR AND ECONOMIC COLLAPSE
On the 7th of September 2021, Civil War in Myanmar was declared. This has significantly increased the level of fear, destruction, and chaos in the nation, with more people hiding in their homes and more NGOs fleeing the country. In the past month, we have seen high rates of crime, poverty, joblessness, and trafficking. In order to combat this, we have continued to support the twelve communities we are based in, providing food, medication, financial support, and counseling. The declaration of Civil War will likely push many middle-class families into poverty, with no support net from the government or agencies.
The sudden complete lack of income, as well as the collapse of the Myanmar Kyat exacerbated by the COVID-19 and coup-induced economic crisis, is resulting in widespread debt defaults and exponentially growing financial pressures. This is leaving thousands of families at risk of trafficking and starvation. The overwhelming pressure and desperation to find enough food is driving many families towards seeking any income opportunities no matter the human cost. In the last few months, we have heard heartbreaking stories of families in paralysing poverty, selling their children to traffickers to escape starvation and destitution
REVIVAL IN MYANMAR
Amidst the ongoing crisis, we have organized various support groups for people in the community facing the same incredibly challenging issues. Such support groups include those for medical support, debt counseling, trafficking prevention, motorcycle taxi drivers, women in prostitution, family wellness, home counseling prayer, and more. We have learned how essential these support groups are in the community as, by sharing each other’s difficulties and trials, the people who attend these groups are able to unburden themselves and find relief and encouragement in knowing they are not alone.
These groups are also a lifesaver to those suffering from symptoms of poor mental health, such as anxiety and depression, as they serve to maintain the mental health of individuals and families who are suffering loss, financial hardships, and joblessness in Myanmar.
In these groups, God is pouring out his spirit on those who are open to receive and to hear. Countless individuals including children have seen visions of heaven and hell and have had discussions with Jesus. It is amazing to see how people are on fire for God, spreading the gospel wherever they go!
This video shows the amazing impact these groups have!
DEBT, GANGSTERS AND LAWLESSNESS
Due to the coup, law and order has collapsed as police have no capacity. This has created the perfect environment for gangsters to grow. There are regular homicides and fights between gang members, there are countless rape cases and examples of exploitation. These gangsters exploit every kind of vulnerability. However, through prayer we have begun to establish relationships with gang leaders, many have come to faith and have stopped the cycle of violence and abuse in the communities we reach.
Since the local police have pulled out of impoverished areas like the communities we serve, law and order has dramatically declined and no one feels safe. This lack of authority has empowered gangster groups to take over. They now operate freely in these impoverished communities, particularly acting as loan sharks to extort money from local families, threatening them with violence and even murder if they do not pay on time. These local families have no where to go to ask for safety, other than crying out to God.
Here is the latest video with testimonies on the power of prayer and how God hears the oppressed .
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”
HALF A NATION IN POVERTY
Recently, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), released a report confirming a tragic and disastrous truth for Myanmar. They found that the national instability from the coup in combination with the severe economic effects and the many deaths from the three COVID-19 waves will push another 13 million people into poverty (earning less than a dollar a day). This would mean essentially half of Myanmar’s population will struggle to get basic needs of food, water, shelter and medicine. Poverty in peri-urban areas will also increase.
The military coup and Delta variant has led to economic, political, and social instability in the nation. This has caused many of the most vulnerable and poverty-stricken people to lose their jobs due to factory closures, and fall deeper into poverty. With the increase in food costs, we have witnessed an exponential rise in the number of malnourished children living in the poverty-stricken areas of Yangon. Not only this, but desperation for money and lack of opportunity has led to increased trafficking, substance abuse, domestic violence, and family dysfunctionality
A Failed, Super Spreader State
Since the February coup, Myanmar’s COVID-19 response has collapsed and the situation has spiralled out of control. A UN rapporteur called Myanmar a ‘super spreader state.’ Testing and vaccination have largely stopped and doctors and healthcare workers are afraid of going back to work due to arrests and imprisonment for doctors working in non-government hospitals.
Below is a video following the second wave of Covid-19.