US offer temporary refuge to stranded Myanmar citizens following military coup

WASHINGTON (AFP): The US government said Friday that Myanmar citizens stranded by the violence following the country’s military coup would be able to remain inside the United States under “temporary protected status.”

“Due to the military coup and security forces’ brutal violence against civilians, the people of Burma (Myanmar) are suffering a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in many parts of the country,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

“After a thorough review of this dire situation, I have designated Burma for temporary protected status so that Burmese nationals and habitual residents may remain temporarily in the United States.”

The United States has granted TPS protection to nationals of a number of countries struck by political upheavals or natural disasters, making their return difficult. The protection is usually set for a limited period, like 12 months, but can be extended if the hardships or threats remain.

DHS said the February 1 takeover by Myanmar’s military has led to an economic crisis and shortages of humanitarian and medical aid. In addition, it said the people protesting the coup face arbitrary detention, intimidation and lethal violence from the military.

“Such conditions prevent Burmese nationals and habitual residents from returning safely,” the department said in a statement.

The initial TPS order will last 18 months. DHS did not say how many people would be covered by it.

Earlier this week the administration of President Joe Biden offered TPS for tens of thousands of Venezuelans who fled political repression and economic chaos in the once wealthy South American country.