11 July 2024

Asean is planning to hold an international donor conference on humanitarian aid for Myanmar, which is suffering from an ever-deepening Covid-19 crisis.

An informed source, who asked not be identified, said the Asean foreign ministers agreed with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai’s proposal that a fund-pledging conference should be held as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration of the public health situation in Myanmar.

The source added that the Asean Secretariat is working closely with the member countries to determine the time and venue for the conference. Australia was the first country to donate US$5 million to assist Asean with the situation in Myanmar.

Last week, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, warned that half of Myanmar’s more than 54 million people could be infected with Covid-19 in the weeks to come. She said that the coup has resulted in a near total collapse of the healthcare system.

At the 54th Asean annual foreign ministerial meeting, which ended today, the leaders also pledged to provide humanitarian assistance to Myanmar through the Asean Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA). AHA was created in 2011 following lessons learned and experience dealing with the response to Cyclone Nargis in 2009. Today it is an intergovernmental organization that facilitates the coordination and cooperation among the member countries with UN organizations on humanitarian assistance and emergencies.

Thailand, which shares a 2,401-kilometer border with Myanmar, has already provided humanitarian aid across the border through its Red Cross Society and local nongovernmental organizations. Since the coup in February, Thailand has had to deal with the influx of villagers who have crossed from Myanmar.

Over the past weeks, Thailand has utilized the stockpile of relief materials from the Chainat-based Disaster Emergency Logistic System for Asean (DELSA) for affected communities inside Myanmar. Thailand will later resupply relief and other materials. The Chainat center was one of key deliverables by Thailand during its Asean chairmanship in 2019 under the theme Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.