Kachin COVID-19 Response Volunteers Say Govt ‘Hasn’t Provided Anything to Us’

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Volunteer groups working for COVID-19 prevention in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina have said that they are in need of personal protective equipment (PPE), medicine and food for their volunteers.

Representatives from the Kachin State Volunteer Team for COVID-19, made up largely of university students, said that the needs are great and varied.

“There is no soap here. We provide masks to returnees who arrive at the bus terminal, so we need masks,” Myo Htet Naing Lin, who is working with the volunteer team, told NMG. “People return [from China] through the Kambaiti and Loije border gates. When they arrive here, they need food and drinking water. Sometimes vehicles [carrying returnees] arrive here at around 12:00 midnight or 1:00 a.m.”

Without enough food aid to distribute, Myo Htet Naing Lin said that “sometimes we have to give our own food quota to these returnees.”

The Kachin State government is reportedly not providing support to the volunteer teams.

“U Zaw Zaw, who is the head of the Kachin State government’s office, told media outlets that they had provided food, drinking water, and necessary medicine to youth volunteers, who sprayed disinfectant in bus terminal. Actually, the state government hasn’t provided anything to us,” Lashar Paw Lu, who is working with the Kachin State COIVD-19 Prevention Network, told NMG. “We haven’t gotten anything from the government. We are still operating with assistance from local donors.”

The Kachin State government and volunteer teams held a meeting on May 1 to discuss the issue. Myitkyina-based volunteer teams said that even though the government had pledged to provide food to people staying at quarantine centers, in practice, the government hasn’t provided food to them.

“We have many challenges with our volunteer work. Health security is the main challenge for our youth, who are working and quarantine facilities and in other areas,” Lashar Paw Lu said. “The government cannot fulfil what is needed. I think our youth volunteers who are working at quarantine facilities, and who are spraying disinfectants, need preventative equipment. We don’t have enough PPE.”

The Kachin State Volunteer Team for COVID-19, the Kachin State COVID-19 Prevention Network, the Myitkyina-based COVID-19 Volunteer Team (formed of lawyers), and the Kachin National Congress are currently working together for COVID-19 prevention in Myitkina, Kachin State.

These volunteer teams provide food and other assistance to returnees, help in quarantine centers, spray disinfectants, and work on other COVID-19 prevention-related activities, including providing food rations to people in need.