Military coup overshadows Sweden’s work in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar has changed Sweden’s approach in its aid for the country – Photo: STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) works for sustainable development and helps to create better-living conditions for people living in poverty and oppression. The organization has just moved one of its offices back to Rangoon (Yangon) in Myanmar after having temporarily moved it to Thailand due to the instability created by a military coup in the country, Aftonbladet writes.

The organization’s assessment from July was that their employees could no longer receive medical help in Rangoon, but now that assessment has changed.

“At the start of September, we made a new assessment which concluded that it’s now possible to receive medical help in Yangon, which makes it a little bit safer to be here. So now we are four Swedes stationed here at the section office at the Embassy of Sweden in Yangon,” head of Development Cooperation in Myanmar for Sida, Frederik Frisell, says.

The decision to move the office back doesn’t mean that peace has come upon Myanmar however.

“We see now that it’s mostly in Northwest and the Easter regions that the ongoing clashes between the military and the popular resistance groups take place. Also, the weaponized groups who existed in Myanmar before the coup are taking part in these battles,” Frederik Frisell says.

A hindrance of the work

The situation regarding safety in Myanmar is affecting the Swedish humanitarian work in the country. Normally Sida as an organization would go around and assist the development projects they cooperated with, but now this job has been set aside.

Some of the organizations that Sweden cooperates with are working for supporting democracy or a free press. These organizations have been forced to go into hiding, Frederik explains.

“We try to protect the results we have achieved with our development contributions in previous years. Right now we have limited possibilities to make progress due to natural causes, but we at least try to sustain the results we have made so far,” Frederik Frisell adds.

New policy

After the Myanmar military coup in February Sweden changed its aid policy for Myanmar since the state authority was now controlled by the military junta and not a democratically elected government anymore.

Today no form of aid goes to the state or any state institutions but instead exclusively to civil society organizations.

About Lasse Sandholdt

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Lasse Sandholdt

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