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October 24, 2020

‘Eating rats’: Myanmar’s second lockdown drives hunger in slums

World

 
October 24, 2020

YANGON: After the first wave of coronavirus hit Myanmar in March, 36-year-old Ma Suu closed her salad stall and pawned her jewelry and gold to buy food to eat.

During the second wave, when the government issued a stay-home order in September for Yangon, Ma Suu shut her stall again and sold her clothes, plates and pots.

With nothing left to sell, her husband, an out of work construction labourer, has resorted to hunting for food in the open drains by the slum where they live on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city.

“People are eating rats and snakes,” Ma Suu said through tears. “Without an income, they need to eat like that to feed their children.” They live in Hlaing Thar Yar, one of Yangon’s poorest neighborhoods, where residents shine flashlights in the undergrowth behind their homes, looking for some night creature to stave off their hunger.

While rats, reptiles and insects are often eaten by families in rural areas, people in some urban areas are now being reduced to getting nutrition however they can.

With more than 40,000 cases and 1,000 deaths, Myanmar is facing one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, and the lockdown in Yangon has left hundreds of thousands of people, like Ma Suu, without work and precious little support.