The World Food Program has said it is struggling to provide assistance in Myanmar as 70% of its funding needs over the next six months, or $86 million, remain unmet amid a deepening hunger crisis following the Feb. 1 military coup.

A large number of people have difficulty accessing food due to various factors including job loss, rising food and fuel prices, political unrest, violence and displacement, while COVID-19 infections are surging throughout the Southeast Asian nation, the WFP said Friday.

Calling for assistance from the international community, WFP Myanmar Country Director Stephen Anderson said, “It is critically important for us to be able to access to all those in need and receive the funding needed to provide them with humanitarian assistance.”

Nearly 90% of households living in slum-like settlements in Yangon said they have to borrow money to buy food, while incomes have been badly affected for many, Anderson said in a statement.

In April, the WFP estimated the number of people facing hunger in Myanmar could more than double to 6.2 million in the next six months, up from 2.8 million prior to February.

Subsequent WFP monitoring surveys have shown that since February, more and more families are being pushed to the edge, struggling to put even the most basic food on the table, the Rome-based U.N. agency said.

Out of over 220,000 people who have fled violence since February, the WFP has so far reached 17,500 newly displaced people and is working to assist more in August. In total, 1.25 million people in the country have received WFP food, cash and nutrition assistance in 2021 across urban and rural areas.

But with the funding requirement over the next six months unfulfilled, the prospects of the operations remain uncertain, according to the WFP.

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