KNU, RCSS Did Not Ask for Govt Funding Support Related to COVID-19

Monday, August 3, 2020

While some ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) have requested funding assistance from the Burmese government during the COVID-19 pandemic, two major signatories have not submitted such requests.

The Karen National Union (KNU) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) have not asked for this assistance.

“The RCSS didn’t request it from the government we didn’t receive any funding from the government. Specifically, we didn’t send a letter of request to the government,” RCSS spokesperson Maj Kham San said. “If the NRPC wants to help us, the NRPC should send a letter to us,” he added, referring to the government’s peace negotiation body, the National Reconciliation and Peace Center.

Eight NCA signatories have requested and received funding assistance from the government during the COVID-19 period, Dr. Shui Khur, spokesperson for the signatory EAO the Chin National Front (CNF) said.

“We requested what we needed. Then they calculated the amount and provided the assistance. It depended on the amount of our request,” he told NMG.

NMG tried to call the KNU for comment on the issue but had received no response at the time of reporting.

While the government did not officially speak on the funding, news of the assistance has spread on social media.

Dr. Shui Khur said that there were two reasons why groups like the CNF had to request government support.

“First, our families have had difficulties during the COVID-19 period, so we needed to address it,” he told NMG. “Secondly, we have implemented COVID-19 prevention in our control area. For example, we launched a COVID-19 awareness campaign; if we found a suspected case of COVID-19, we would send them to a quarantine center, so we needed to build the quarantine center. It’s because we stay in a border area—if many people pass through the border crossings, we need a quarantine center. The funding assistance is for those things.”

Nai Aung Ma-ngay, a spokesperson for the New Mon State Party (NMSP), said the requests for funding assistance were sent out in early 2020.

“The government has provided basic food rations for our members and our family members in previous years as well as during the COVID-19 period. When the government provided food to working class people, it didn’t cover our members, our families, or the local people in our control area,” Nai Aung Ma-ngay said of the earlier assistance. “We reported to government that we needed basic foods. We reported our difficulties including restrictions on travel, the high price of food products, and so on. That’s why we requested assistance.”

The NMSP, the Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army received 100 million kyat each (US$72,670) in assistance. The CNF and the Pa-O National Liberation Organization received 75 million kyat ($54,500) and the Arakan Liberation Party and the All-Burma Students Democratic Front received 50 million kyat ($36,330). The Lahu Democratic Union received 25 million kyat ($18,160).