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Myanmar: Coup makes prices soar, millions of people can’t buy food

Myanmar’s national economy and banking system have been in a state of paralysis since the military coup in February, SCMP said.

Myanmar: Coup makes prices soar, millions of people can’t buy food

People’s livelihoods have been lost in strikes and factory closures, fuel prices have skyrocketed, and those lucky enough to have some savings have to line up all day to withdraw cash.

Going out for a living has also become dangerous, according to a local monitoring group, amid the military junta’s indiscriminate and brutal repression of dissidents. Since the coup, more than 800 civilians have been killed.

The World Food Program has warned that in the coming months, millions of Myanmar people will go hungry.

“We have to feed our children so they don’t starve to death,” said Aye Mar, a mother of seven in Yangon. She and her husband had to do any job, even digging septic tanks to earn a living.

Wah Wah, a street vendor, said that since the coup, prices have increased, making it impossible for customers to buy even the cheapest items. She said, “I can’t sell because customers can’t buy… even if I sell bowls of dried fish for 500 kyats (VND 7,000) a bowl. Everyone has to spend money carefully because no one has a job. We live with fear because we don’t know what will happen.”

Win Naing Tun, a father of three, said that people who previously could not afford pork have been forced to switch to fish and vegetables. As for those who used to eat austerely, now they can only eat rice with white salt, he said.

According to the World Food Program, rising prices have hit hard-hit remote areas – near the Chinese border in Kachin state, rice is already nearly 50% more expensive. The cost of transporting produce from farms to cities has also skyrocketed after fuel prices are estimated to have increased by 30% since the coup.

The World Food Program estimates that within the next six months, an additional 3.4 million people will go hungry in Myanmar, and the organization is poised to triple its emergency food assistance.

Ni Aye, 51, said she and her husband currently have no income and depend on food stamps. “We are in trouble… If this continues, we will starve to death,” she said. Aung Kyaw Moe, 47, is considering returning to his hometown after the factory in Yangon where he worked closed. He said he had no savings and was desperate not to know what to do to support his family of nine.

“Everything is out of our control,” he said.

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