Myanmar: A mixed bag of poverty reduction and human rights violations

While on one hand Myanmar government is violating the human rights of Rohingyas, on the other hand, a recent WB assessment states that poverty in Myanmar has considerably declined.

Poverty in Myanmar continues to decline, falling from 32.1 percent to 19.4 percent in the 10 years up to 2015, while standards of living overall have improved with average household spending increasing annually by 1.4 percent, says a new report jointly prepared by the Government of Myanmar and the World Bank.

WB Poverty Report Part 1 Myanmar version, 2017


Spending growth has been faster in recent years. Living standards improvements are reflected in a number of indicators, including in more pronounced sales of consumer goods such as mobile phones, motorcycles and televisions. In 2015, over 42 percent of households owned motorcycles, compared to only 25 percent in 2009.

“This analysis provides us with an overview of the poverty trends over time in Myanmar,” said H.E. U Kyaw Win, Union Minister for Ministry of Planning and Finance. 

“The decline in poverty seen in Myanmar during the last decade is encouraging, and reflects the country’s strong track record on economic growth,” said Ellen Goldstein, WB Country Director for Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. WB is a key donor for Myanmar’s development.

While this poverty reduction trend should be the highlight of Myanmar’s embracing a more open world; it is becoming increasingly notorious again because of human right violations; in the Rakhine state, some even terming it as genocide.

Meanwhile, aid activities have been suspended in the northern part of the state for the last week, while in other parts authorities are denying humanitarian actors access to communities in need, predominantly people from the Rohingya minority. According to humanitarian workers, restrictions on their activities and access began in early August but deteriorated significantly since the 25 August attacks.

“Rakhine state is on the precipice of a humanitarian disaster. Nothing can justify denying life-saving aid to desperate people. By blocking access for humanitarian organizations, Myanmar’s authorities have put tens of thousands of people at risk and shown a callous disregard for human life,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director for Crisis Response.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee from their homes since the violence began. According to latest UN estimates 90,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh, while the Myanmar government has evacuated over 11,000 people belonging to other ethnic minority communities living in northern Rakhine State. Thousands of people are believed to be stranded in the mountains of northern Rakhine State, where the UN and international NGOs are unable to assess their needs or to provide shelter, food and protection.



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