Your Thursday Briefing: The Myanmar Crisis


We cover Myanmar refugee anguish and record Covid cases in the United States and Europe.

Across Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, trying to escape violence since the military seized power in a February 1 coup.

Many live in tents in the jungles of Myanmar. Some have left their homeland completely, flocking to neighboring countries.

For those who remain, it is a struggle to survive. The junta has created a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar which is getting worse by the day. Rights groups say soldiers are blocking aid convoys. Children are malnourished. And the army is deploying more troops to crush the resistance.

For those who leave, it’s a life in limbo. Many struggle to adjust to a place they don’t quite know, a government that doesn’t quite welcome them, and a uncertain future. India is cracking down on the Myanmar border region from accepting large numbers of refugees.

Aggravation of violence: More than 1,300 people have been killed by the junta, according to a rights group. The army was accused over the weekend of slaughtering at least 35 villagers, including women and children, in Kayah state.

Left hopeless: “Now we’re alive, but it’s no different being dead,” said Hei Mang, a 70-year-old man whose family was forced to ask neighbors for food in Myanmar.

Across Europe and the United States, records for new coronavirus infections are set day by day, as the Omicron variant tears populations apart with a speed exceeding anything seen in the past two years.

The seven-day average of cases in the United States surpassed 267,000 on Tuesday, a record high. Britain, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy and Spain all set records for new daily case counts this week as well. For many countries, the tide is only starting to rise.

For the vaccinated, Omicron may be milder than previous variants, but the wave of new infections is causing chaos in hospitals, testing centers and businesses. Tests are increasingly difficult to find, even in places like Britain where they were once in reliable supply.

The World Health Organization has warned that the circulation of the Delta variant and the rapid spread of Omicron could create a “tsunami” of infections that overwhelms health systems.

Quote: “Delta and Omicron are now twin threats that are pushing the number of cases to a record high, leading to spikes in hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General.

Details: In France, which on Wednesday set a record 208,000 new cases, the highest number of any European country since the start of the pandemic, the health minister said the increase was “dizzying”. In the Washington, DC area, cases are skyrocketing.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:

Stand News, a pro-democracy news website in Hong Kong, said it would shut down after police arrested seven people linked to it. All site employees were made redundant.

Police raided the site’s headquarters on Wednesday, as part of a further government crackdown on the city’s once-vibrant independent press. The seven people were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to publish seditious material.

After Apple Daily closed in June, Stand News – which was founded as a nonprofit in 2014 after a previous round of mass pro-democracy protests that year – became the one of the last openly pro-democracy media in town. Stand News reporters documented the Hong Kong protests in 2019, including a mob attack on protesters.

Quote: “The editorial policy of Stand News was to be independent and committed to protecting Hong Kong’s core values ​​of democracy, human rights, liberty, the rule of law and justice,” the statement said. . “Thank you, readers, for your continued support. “

For nearly two decades, the carcass of an unfinished hotel marred an idyllic coastline in southern Spain. Its fate remains murky, but the lesson is clear: It is easier to harm the environment than to fix it.

Lives lived: Keri Hulme, the Maori writer who became the first New Zealander to win the prestigious Booker Prize with her first luminous novel, “The Bone People”, has passed away. She was 74 years old.

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