UN: Myanmar's middle class halved due to effects of war


Once considered among the most promising economies in Southeast Asia with a growing middle class, Myanmar is now suffering from soaring levels of poverty as a devastating civil war drives tens of millions further into destitution, according to a new United Nations report.

UN: Myanmar's middle class halved due to effects of war
Almost half of Myanmar’s population of 54 million is below the poverty line, with 49.7% of people living on less than 76 US cents a day — a figure that has doubled since 2017, researchers with the UN Development Program (UNDP) found.

Three years after the military seized power in a coup, the economic situation in the country has rapidly deteriorated to a point where the middle class is at risk of being wiped out and families are forced to cut back on food, health and education due to soaring inflation, the report found.

The 2021 military coup, which overthrew the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, plunged the country into instability and violence, and — coupled with the Covid pandemic — reversed that progress.

Since the coup, anti-junta resistance forces and ethnic armies have been fighting against military troops to oust it from power. The military junta has launched increasingly brutal attacks against the people of Myanmar, and ground battles, airstrikes and junta raids on villages have displaced nearly three million people.

Foreign investment in the country has sharply declined and the number of unemployed people who have migrated abroad has significantly increased.

The report found that Myanmar’s GDP has not been able to recover from the 18% drop it suffered in 2021 due to the double shock of the political crisis and pandemic.

“Without immediate interventions to provide cash transfers, food security and access to basic services, vulnerability will keep growing, and impacts will be felt across generations. We call on all stakeholders — inside and outside Myanmar — to take action and preserve vulnerable households from slipping into irreversible poverty and despair,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner in a statement.

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