Helping the people of Burma

People gathering around oxygen tanks (© AP Images)
People wait to refill oxygen tanks in Rangoon, Burma, July 28. The United States is providing aid to Burma, where people face a political crisis and rising COVID-19 cases. (© AP Images)

The United States is providing more than $50 million in critical humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma, among them over 700,000 refugees and others internally displaced in the country.

The aid will support people fleeing violence and persecution in Burma after the February 1 military coup. It will provide lifesaving protection, shelter, essential health care, and emergency food assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services.

On August 10, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. representative to the United Nations, announced the aid to assist displaced people from and within Burma, as well as an additional $5 million to fight COVID-19 in Thailand.

“These resources will help ensure Thailand, NGOs, and international organizations can both respond to the COVID crisis and meet the needs of vulnerable people, particularly in the Thai border area,” Thomas-Greenfield said, speaking at a vaccination center in Bangkok. Aid to both countries will flow through nongovernmental organizations and other U.N. and international partners.

The United States supports the Burmese people’s calls for democracy. It has sanctioned military leaders and others responsible for the February 1 coup and violence against the people. U.S. sanctions seek to impose costs on the military regime and provide accountability for the coup and human rights abuses while avoiding economic harm to the people of Burma.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in an August 3 meeting with foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, called on Burma’s military to restore democratic governance, release those unjustly detained and end the use of violence.

The new support for the Burmese people adds to more than $20 million in U.S. humanitarian aid already provided to fight COVID-19 in Burma through improved testing capacity and public awareness.

U.S. assistance to Thailand will also support that country’s health care workers and increase its vaccine supply. The United States has already delivered 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Thailand and plans to provide an additional 1 million doses, Thomas-Greenfield said.