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Since the Covid-19 pandemic

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Since the Covid-19 pandemic, people are struggling for their livelihood. The economic recession makes people desperate. Amidst this hard-time situation, a tragic political crisis happens. Since then, the safety of civilians is a big challenge and the number of jobless and homeless is on the rise.

To have a stronger network among CSOs in crisis time, ABC organized Chinland CSO Network meeting on 2 December 2022 in Youth Center, Kalay. There were 22 participants from Kalay and Chin State. CSOs from Falam, Hakha, Tamu and Tonzang could not physically join the meeting due to the current situation and for security reasons.

In Kalay, it is said that there are about 3000 persons who get ART monthly from government-owned Kalay General Hospital, private hospitals and community centres. Due to political instability, medical services become unavailable. To respond to this situation for those who are in constant need of ART, delegates from HIV communities in Kalay share that they are providing ART, nutrition, homecare and counselling to the PLHA. Their services include medical check-ups, care and support, home visit and PLHA network meeting. When ART is out of stock, they go to Moreh, India for medical aid.

With limited medical resources, their organizations support ART to PLHA in Kalay Township, Kalaywa Township and Minkin Township. They state that conducting livelihood activities such as mushroom farming, and selling meat–pork and beef etc. – makes the activities move forward. They are also helping tuberculosis patients in Teddim, Tamu and Kalay.

One of the reports includes the case of maternal and child health. The issue is urgent as children and women need special care during civil unrest. It insists to support nutrition to young mothers and young children in Teddim, Waibula, Minkin, Falam, Khampat, Kalay, and Kalaywa townships.

One CSO is helping HIV/PLHA, LGTB (especially gay) and female sex workers. It provides psychosocial support, counselling, medical aid, food, and nutrition to them. In addition, it gives legal services to sex workers who are often arrested. Its report states that in the past four years (from 2019 to 2022), the HIV infection rate in Chin State is increasing. The death rate is also alarming especially due to a lack of medical support.

The representative shares the fact that PLHA are still discriminated. In one village, the representative says, the house of HIV patient was burnt by some people who believed that it was a disgrace to have an HIV patient in the village. The lawyer of the CSO sued the case against those who burnt the house. And finally, a new house was rebuilt for the victim.

Young people in Kalay-Kabaw region become jobless and are addicted to drugs plus alcohol. There are a good number of drug-addicted people in rehabilitation centres run by Churches. One of Kalay CSOs sends alcohol and drug addicts to different camps in Kalay. In those camps, there are more than 1500 addicts.

Medical support and nutrition are in need by people in drug rehabilitation camps. Chin villagers who cultivate opium consume opium and narcotic drugs. About 80 % of some villages in Chin State including children have become drug users as a result of consuming opium during opium harvesting. The rise of drug users causes a high rate of theft and criminal incidents. In addition, those villagers will not have a bright future unless opium farming is replaced with other sustainable agriculture. Drug issue has become the greatest problem Chin State.

There is a felt need to organize community medical support groups, and medical kits for township wards, villages and camps because people's mobility is strictly restricted and limited. HIV, TB, Child and Maternal care and malnutrition are critical concerns for the target population. Civilians need protection and material help. In addition, humanitarian aid in Kalay and Chin State is urgent, especially for food, shelter, psychosocial support, counselling and education.

Along with safe migration awareness (pre-departure preparation, migration process, etc) for the general population, skills for jobs, on-job training (motorbike repair, phone repair, digital skills, soft skills, etc) for young women and men are imperative. Most young people go abroad (Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Dubai, Oman, etc) for job. Electricity is limited and solar power system for civilians in community centres is urgently needed.

One woman-led CSO helps women with low income through raw material support and by teaching soap making, sewing and mushroom farming. The team also conducts digital education (how to use mobile) for indigenous women in Chin State to be able to prevent from scammers.

A female participant claims that women's empowerment is important as well, especially during conflict times. She suggests that livelihood and income generation for women in the areas of beauty salons, livestock farming (piglet, goat, chicken, etc) and mushroom cultivating, home gardening etc. should not be neglected.

One Kalay CSO has an ambulance for emergency patients. Martial law had been declared in Kalay and curfew time is from 8 PM to 4 AM. Whenever there is an emergency, it asks permission via a phone call from security forces to send the patients to nearby hospitals.

A representative from a disability community shares his experiences. The differently-abled people have a hard time receiving aid from NGOs, churches, and other donors. They cannot go around and reach the charity of donors. When war broke out between the civilian armed groups and the security forces, they cannot move to a safe place. They are helpless. Health care for PWD is critical.

He continues that many people get injured and became PWD due to the civil conflict. Many PWD are without wheelchairs and stick in Kalay and Chin State. The wheelchair is now expensive. It costs about MMK 330,000. PWD are still marginalized. Public access, safe space and social inclusion are essential for PWD.

The fact is that political instability causes a lot of social development and almost dysfunction. Furthermore, there are growing fears that arm-fight can be escalated all over the country. However, the CSOs are responding to the dire needs of their target communities amidst insecure circumstances. In summary, the Chinland CSO Network members are serving the hard-to-reach populations in villages, camps and the remotest areas where state service and service from INGO personnel could not reach.