The Institute for Global Governance Research (GGR) held its second Brown Bag Lunch Seminar on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, on the topic of “Humanitarian Assistance under the Crisis Situation in Myanmar” with Hnin Htet Htet Aung, Visiting Researcher at the Graduate School of Law.
To begin with, Ms. Aung described the impact of the coup on the humanitarian situation. In many areas of Myanmar, humanitarian access remains restricted due to insecurity, roadblocks, and difficulties in obtaining access authorization, limiting the activities of international NGOs. There were also references to “ethical dilemmas,” such as whether medical personnel would provide humanitarian assistance to those on the side of the military regime as well. Since February 1, 2021, an estimated 441,500 people have been internally displaced throughout Myanmar.
Second, she pointed out the concern of a worsening situation which is affected by blocking assistance. According to the United Nations agency, the coup could significantly worsen the poverty level and access to food. In fact, the Myanmar military has blocked roads that allow the flow of food supplies. In addition, it has burned down food stores, killing livestock, and exercising influence even over farmers. As a result, the poverty levels have worsened.
Third, Ms. Aung explained humanitarian assistance and the ASEAN five-point consensus. The fourth point of the consensus states that ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management. Despite this consensus, at least 14 aid workers have been detained in Karenni state since the coup, three of whom remain arbitrarily detained.
Finally, the need for cross-border assistance through ASEAN, the UN, the United States, the European Union, and others was discussed. Myanmar has a history of exploiting humanitarian assistance to line its own pockets, and this kind of situation must be avoided.
Numerous exchanges took place during the Q&A session. Regarding the question of where Myanmar refugees are headed, in addition to Thailand, the Indian government is also assisting Myanmar refugees. Another question was also asked about communication among the refugees, and Ms. Aung mentioned that international networks are helping to maintain such communication. In response to a question about how ethnic minorities are reacting to the military, the solidarity between the ethnic minorities and the democrats was described. Other questions included references to the situation on the Chinese border in the north, assessments of the nonviolent movement, and the influence of the US and the EU on Myanmar’s problems.
【Event report prepared by】
SUZUKI Ryohei (Doctoral Student, Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University)