Covid-19 and Complex Conflicts: The Pandemic in Myanmar’s Unsettled Regions
The Covid-19 crisis has had mixed impacts on Myanmar’s disparate conflicts and the ongoing peace process. The pandemic response has highlighted deep fragmentation across Myanmar society, in particular along ethnic lines. Large parts of the population, especially in areas affected by violent conflict, rely on civil society or ethnic armed groups for health services and support. While some useful cooperation between state and non-state institutions could point to the potential for new and ongoing relationship-building or reconciliation, uninterrupted fighting and renewed clashes have continued in the West, the North, and the Southeast, and hopes for productive peace dialogue to continue are low. International support is critical for not only mitigating the potentially devastating long-term effects of the pandemic on nascent livelihoods and governance systems but also to ensure that vital resources are not diverted away from peacebuilding work. Meanwhile, agencies supporting the pandemic response should ensure that they adapt to account for conflict tensions and the hugely varied local conditions across Myanmar.