Benoit de Gryse, operational manager for the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Myanmar, gave the following statement today expressing concern for public health and safety following the military coup on February 1.
“MSF is gravely concerned about the recent unlawful arrests and detainment of health care workers and people from the wider general public following the military coup in Myanmar on February 1, 2021.
The arrests and widespread restrictions following the recently imposed ‘state of emergency’ have the potential to severely interrupt the lifesaving health care that MSF and others have been providing to some of the most vulnerable people in Myanmar. This puts the safety of the wider public at risk, with mass detainments likely leading to further outbreaks of COVID-19. Alongside the arrests, the reports of violence against protestors, and the potential escalation of this violence, are greatly concerning.
We are also deeply concerned about the harassment and intimidation faced by members of the medical community in Myanmar, and also the intimidation and arrests of people in the wider community. We see this crisis brings real fears, expressed by so many of our colleagues, and worry for the immediate and long-term effects on public health and general safety.
In all circumstances, and regardless of age, religion, or political affiliation, our patients come first, as does the safety of our staff and the partners we work with. We will continue to deliver impartial medical care to the most vulnerable to the best of our capacity and while access and circumstances still allow for the provision of care. Currently, our programs are running but staff movements have been restricted. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are ready to adapt our medical humanitarian response as needed.”