Food aid reliance is set to triple to 3.4 million people in Myanmar within months, the World Food Program has warned. The WFP in its press release blamed three primary causes: Myanmar's February military coup, "pre-existing poverty," and the global coronavirus pandemic's spread across Myamar.
WFP's director for Myanmar, Stephen Anderson, said families were already "skipping meals” in the 10 poorest suburbs of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.
"More and more poor people have lost their jobs and are unable to afford food," said Anderson, depicting a "sharp" rise in "hunger and desperation."
Prices for staples — such as rice and cooking oil — had risen nationwide, especially in Myanmar's border areas of Chin, Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states. For example, said Anderson, rice prices had soared by up to 43% in some townships of Kachin state and cooking oil by 32%. Prices for fuel had increased by "roughly 30% nationwide," he said.
"The world must act immediately to address this humanitarian catastrophe."
In Myanmar's eastern Karen border region — near Thailand — 24,000 subsistence rice farmers had been displaced by recent military air and ground mortar strikes, said David Eubank of the Christian aid group, Free Burma Rangers. Unable to safely return home to tend their paddy fields, "you're looking at a six-month problem of no food," said Eubank.