Nyan Hein |DMG
23 September, Sittwe
The Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC) is distributing radios to internally displaced people (IDPs) in Arakan State townships with limited access to information amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing armed conflict in the region.
“The REC has distributed more than 400 radios to 52 IDP camps in Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Myebon townships,” said U Shwe Baw Sein, chair of the REC.
“Plans are underway to distribute radios to other remote areas that have no internet access in order for people to be able to get information about COVID-19,” he added.
After more than a year without any mobile internet access, seven townships in Arakan State and Chin State’s Paletwa Township saw connectivity restored — but only on a limited, 2G network — last month. Critics of the government’s internet policy in Arakan State say the 2G network is inadequate, with connection speeds severely limiting online capabilities.
U Aung Than Tun, treasurer of the COVID-19 Protection Joint Committee, said: “There is weak enforcement of rules about COVID-19. The people in Mrauk-U Township in Arakan State do not get real-time information due to the lack of internet access. They don’t even know how many positive cases [have been reported].”
“The situation is worrying as the IDPs do not get real-time information about COVID-19 due to the lack of internet access,” echoed U Sein Shwe Bu, an in-charge of Wartaung IDP camp in Kyauktaw Township. “The IDP camps are teeming with people. There will be virus transmission if a person is infected with COVID-19. I would like to urge authorities to reopen the full internet access to get real-time information.”
As of 8 p.m. on September 23, the Ministry of Health and Sports said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide was 7,292. A total of 2,085 patients had been discharged from hospitals and 130 fatalities were recorded.
Among Myanmar’s 14 states and regions, Arakan State had the second-most COVID-19 cases, with more than 1,100 confirmed infections. There have been three deaths and around 600 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals.