Myanmar Under the Rage of Civil War and El Niño Climate Change

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – April 30 Scenes
MoeMaKa, May 01, 2024

Myanmar Under the Rage of Civil War and El Niño Climate Change

If you ask what the biggest problem that the people of Myanmar are currently facing, the answer is likely the impacts of the civil war raging in the country. Armed conflict, or the civil war, causes people in war-torn areas to lose their lives, homes, and properties, suffer torture, live apart from family members, lack sufficient food, and rely on aid and support. Those living in areas not yet touched by armed conflict face lawlessness, looting, killings, bomb explosions, high commodity prices, and forced conscription.

In late 2023 and early summer of 2024, as the civil war intensifies, Myanmar is also experiencing an El Niño summer that is hotter than usual, similar to other countries around the world. Both rural and urban residents are enduring the effects of climate change in addition to these hardships.

Daily news reports indicate that cities in Myanmar’s upper and middle regions are among the hottest in the world almost every day, reaching the highest temperatures in 70-80 years.

Due to the extreme heat, the lives of the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at risk. While suffering from this extreme weather, they also face severe power outages, insufficient drinking water, and are forced to flee to forests due to war without proper shelter in war-torn areas. This situation can be described as suffering piled upon suffering. The scarcity of food and drinking water in IDP camps, and the lack of drinking water and electricity for resettlement in fire-damaged towns and villages, are occurring simultaneously.

If not for Myanmar’s political crisis and armed conflicts, the population might have been able to withstand the impact of such climate change to some extent. However, amidst the current armed conflicts, avoiding death by weapons and bullets is their top priority, with measures to address climate change impacts taking a back seat.

In some refugee camps, there have been reports of diarrheal diseases due to unclean drinking water, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Neither the administration nor the public can solve the drinking water problems faced by refugee camps and villages. In times without political and military crises, regions experiencing natural disasters could receive help from other areas. But now, almost every region is grappling with multiple problems, such as war, traffic blockades, restrictions, and financial difficulties, making mutual aid impossible.

While experiencing both natural and man-made disasters simultaneously, environmental conservation for the future is also deteriorating significantly. Many forest areas that could have been preserved before the coup are now being smuggled and illegally sold to neighboring countries or other nations via waterways. Uncontrolled gold mining in rivers is also widespread. These unpredictable levels of illegal logging and gold mining, leading to the destruction of rivers and streams, can be seen as side effects of the armed conflict.

For Myanmar, suffering from environmental problems affecting the entire population, over-extraction of resources, global climate change, and armed conflicts, difficult questions emerge about how to prioritize which problem to solve and how to manage other issues while addressing the political problem that is the root cause of everything. Despite facing the consequences of armed conflicts, political crises, economic crises, and natural disasters simultaneously, the people still dream of a peaceful and prosperous country.

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