Northern Alliance Needs Peace To Fight Covid-19

By Network Media Group
Friday, April 4, 2020

Northern Alliance leaders called on the Burma Army and government to declare a ceasefire to give them time to launch programs in their communities to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“There’s going to be enormous suffering if the novel coronavirus spreads and the fighting doesn’t stop,” Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) spokesperson Maj Mai Aik Kyaw explained. If there’s peace, it can be stopped or at least curb the infection rate, he said.

“We can’t start this work in our areas while the Army is launching a military operation (against us),” Mai Aik Kyaw, told NMG.“It’s better if they stop their military offensives. Locals are afraid of the fighting, and they’re really scared of getting the virus.”

An Arakan Army (AA) officer told NMG civilians have to flee their homes after the Burma Army targets their villages.”People are more afraid of the Burma Army than Covid-19,” the AA officer said.
“We’re focussing on strategies on how our people can overcome this pandemic.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for ceasefires around the world to help the most vulnerable populations affected by Covid-19. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said. “That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

The Karen National Union and Karenni National Progressive Party welcomed the UN secretary-general’s call to peace, demanding the Army and government declare a real nationwide ceasefire in Burma.

“It’s a crucial time for our country,” Maj Sai Bone Han, the spokesperson for the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army told NMG. “The government, army and EAOs (ethnic armed organisations) need to think very carefully about what to do. Every responsible person and organization needs to think about it.”

Despite having to defend itself against the Army, Mai Aik Kyaw told NMG the TNLA is raising awareness about Covid-19 and monitoring Ta’ang that are returning from other areas to make sure they aren’t bringing the virus back home with them. He said when the novel coronavirus was first announced whatever information was available in Chinese was translated to Ta’ang. TNLA medical teams have educated Ta’ang about the virus.

Since Covid-19 started in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province last year it has quickly spread around the world, prompting WHO to declare it a pandemic on March 11.

On April 3, there are 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Burma but numbers are likely to be much higher because testing has been limited. On March 31, a 69-year-old from Mingalar Taung Nyunt township in Yangon was the first confirmed death from the novel coronavirus.

Currently, there are 1,017,693 confirmed cases in 181 countries according to a Johns Hopkins University real-time map. The virus has killed 53,179. There have been 212,072 that have recovered.