6 June 2024

Myanmar’s armed resistance groups are asking the US government for over half a billion dollars in humanitarian and non-lethal aid to help them oust the country’s military regime, including money for drones, armored vehicles and radar jamming gear, according to Voice of America (VOA).

It said the US Congress passed the Burma Unification through Rigorous Military Accountability Act, or BURMA, Act, in December as part of a sweeping defense budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which runs through September.

The act authorizes the US government to help armed groups resisting the junta with nonlethal assistance but did not assign any funding.

VOA said some of those groups are now asking Congress to appropriate US$525 million for Myanmar for the next fiscal year, including US$200 million for nonlethal aid. The total would be nearly four times the US$136 million approved for Myanmar last year for general aid and development.

The request comes from Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow administration run from hiding and exile vying to oust the junta, and a trio of allied ethnic minority rebel armies. Along with hundreds of smaller, local militias, they are believed to have full or contested control of roughly half Myanmar’s countryside.

The NUG told VOA it has sent its proposed appropriations language, seen by VOA, to the appropriations committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives but would not elaborate on their response. The chairs and senior minority members of the committees either refused VOA’s request for comment or did not reply.

The groups have been asking Western countries for military aid but so far been denied.