The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated particular challenges for internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the world. In Myanmar, the number of IDPs has increased significantly due to the escalation of armed fighting between the military, ethnic armed groups, and anti-coup people since the military coup on 1 Feb 2021. However, little concern has been raised locally, regionally and globally about the plights of IDPs in Myanmar under this military regime and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. This study explored how the military coup poses a higher risk of COVID-19 infection and challenges among the IDPs in Myanmar. Through purposive sampling and qualitative interviews with (n=17) IDPs were conducted between June and July 2021. The IDPs reported that the intensifying armed conflict and attacks on IDP shelters put them to live with fear and anxieties that directly affect their mental health and prompt them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, malaria, and dengue fever due to precarious living conditions. Moreover, the military's restriction of all humanitarian support, including basic healthcare services, medicine, and food, has adversely affected their overall health and well-being due to the existing food shortage and insufficient healthcare access. The findings call for the international community collective action to halt military brutality on its people and provide humanitarian assistance, including vaccines to the IDPs in Myanmar.
Biography of speaker
Mr. TUAL SAWN KHAI
Tual Sawn Khai is from Chin State, Myanmar. He is a PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at the School of Graduate Studies, Lingnan University. He has had more than five years of experience working in human rights and social development services at NGOs and the public sector. His PhD study focuses on the barriers to labour legalization and access to healthcare faced by Burmese irregular migrants in Thailand. His research interests include access to healthcare for internally displaced people (IDPs), irregular labour migration, and the health of refugees and migrants.