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Communities brace against COVID-19 impacts

Communities across Myanmar already beleaguered by the country’s political coup are bracing twice over – this time against a rampant COVID-19, sweeping yet again through the nation.

Around 3,500 new daily cases, and more than 200 daily deaths, are being reported by the World Health Organization. That’s what we’re told officially. We also know a fraction of the real picture is coming through.

An anonymous author shared recently that, “few people are officially tested and even fewer are treated at public hospitals, so the real death toll is unknown [and] in recent weeks funeral homes and crematoriums across the country have been overwhelmed”.

The healthcare response is drastically lacking, including accounts of the military stockpiling vital oxygen supplies. Just days ago, Physicians for Human Rights also reported the military’s specific focus on attacking healthcare professionals.

Those already facing vulnerability are at even greater risk, from the growing number of internally displaced people, to those in the prison system, including people who have taken part in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

The fraught vaccine rollout is further discriminating. As just one example, the Rohingya in Rakhine State are being excluded for the time being as ‘non-citizens’.

GraceWorks Myanmar’s (GWM) Chief Executive Officer, Peter Simmons, says the global community needs to remain vigilant during such a complex and fast-moving crisis.

“The risk for those not in the country is that they move on with life, while the people of Myanmar confront daily struggles with seemingly no end in sight,” Peter said.

“We can make a difference and stand with Myanmar in practical ways through financial support to provide basic supplies and through advocacy to keep this on the agenda of governments around the world,” he said.

The devastation is already showing. Hunger is set to double based on estimates by the World Food Programme, and the economy is rapidly shrinking based on estimates by the World Bank – two of many measures moving fast in the wrong direction.

Yet, in the middle of chaos, community development provides a lifeline, not just a lifestyle.

“Even though people are understandably focused on their survival and that of their immediate loved ones, we are hearing story after story of community relationships providing critical access to supplies and support,” Peter said.

“GWM will continue to raise funds through our Stand With Myanmar appeal,” he said.

“Funds are providing direct support for emergency humanitarian aid and development purposes, fully informed by the specific needs shared with us through our alumni community development villages and facilitators.”

We Stand With Myanmar and invite you to join us in that effort. Donations over $2 to GWM’s Stand With Myanmar appeal are tax deductible. To donate, please visit our website at


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