Under Fire, Under Water: Sustaining Humanitarian Assistance to Conflict-Affected Communities in Myanmar’s Karen State
Amid flooding and conflict in southeastern Myanmar, we talk to humanitarian workers supported by Community Partners International (CPI), who ensure that essential services reach communities in urgent need.
Children are suffering as conflict engulfs Myanmar (Burma). Chae, 33, whose youngest child is acutely malnourished, tells of the struggle to keep her children healthy.
For Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, finding enough safe water to meet their daily needs can be difficult and exhausting. A new water network, built with Community Partners International's support, provides 800 Rohingya refugees with easy access to a reliable, safe water supply for their essential drinking, washing, and cooking needs.
Myanmar’s Humanitarian Crisis: “Because of conflict, people can’t move freely, making it difficult to get food and medical supplies.”
In Kayin (Karen) State, southeast Myanmar (Burma), renewed conflict between the Myanmar military and ethnic nationality organizations has displaced thousands of people and created a humanitarian crisis against the backdrop of a rising wave of COVID-19. With support from the Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT), Community Partners International (CPI) is helping local partner the Karen Ethnic Health Organizations Consortium (KEHOC) to provide displaced and conflict-affected women, newborns and young children with essential nutrition support, safe water, and hygiene and sanitation.
Voices From the Pandemic: “Thirty to forty people in our village died from a lack of oxygen, including my grandmother.”
“My grandmother’s blood oxygen level dropped to 80% and she couldn’t eat or drink. At the end, she was so weak that she couldn’t breathe from the oxygen tank. Losing a family member in front of my eyes really made me understand the danger of COVID-19.”
In early October 2021, Elizabeth’s whole family came down with COVID-19 in their village in Ayeyarwady Region, Myanmar. The country was in the midst of a devastating third wave that killed many thousands of people. The health system, already shattered by political unrest, was overwhelmed.
On January 2, 2022, five days after the first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in Myanmar, a new oxygen generation plant supported by Community Partners International and the Access to Health Fund opened at a facility operated by the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) in Hpa-An, Kayin (Karen) State.
In April, conflict in Chin State, western Myanmar, pushed villagers over the border into India where the Delta variant of COVID-19 was spreading rapidly. Soon after they returned, COVID-19 cases in Chin State began to spike. Due to Myanmar’s ongoing political crisis, the local public health system had little capacity to respond. Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner the Hualngo Land Development Organization (HLDO) mobilized to provide COVID-19 prevention and care to people in desperate need.
Since late July, heavy rains in Kutupalong Refugee Camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, have caused widespread flooding and landslides, damaging shelters and facilities, and displacing and affecting thousands of people. Rohingya volunteers supported by Community Partners International have been at the forefront of efforts to help those affected.
The B.K. Kee Foundation and other philanthropists have set up a $1.1 million match fund to help save lives in Myanmar (Burma) in the midst of a catastrophic surge in COVID-19 cases. The fund will double-match donations to Asia-focused California nonprofit Community Partners International's Myanmar COVID-19 SOS campaign while match funds last.
COVID-19 moves fast, and ever faster as new, more infectious variants emerge. This creates challenges for all public health systems but especially those in low-resource settings like Nepal. In these contexts, the ability to track resource needs and gaps in an accurate and timely way and deploy limited resources efficiently becomes even more crucial in the race to save lives.
Seeking to address these challenges in Nepal, Community Partners International (CPI), the blockchain tech company Ibriz and design agency Kazi Studios have created an open online platform called Relief Connect - reliefconnect.org.