Monday, January 30, 2023

UN says more than 3 million need “life-saving” aid in Myanmar

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN humanitarian chief on Monday urged Myanmar’s military leaders to provide unhindered access to the more than 3 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian aid, as government forces seized power on Feb. had done “Because of escalating conflict and insecurity, COVID-19 and a failing economy.”

Martin Griffiths warned that without an end to the violence and a peaceful solution to Myanmar’s crisis, “this number will only increase.”

He also urged donors to respond to the UN appeal, saying that less than half of the $385 million needed has been raised since Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government was ousted from power.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday marked the first anniversary of Myanmar’s 2020 elections, which were “considered free and fair by domestic and international observers.” He was won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party with about 80% of the elected seats in the upper and lower houses of parliament. The military rejected the results, claiming the vote was fraud.

“The United Nations reiterates its call for the military to respect the will of the people and return the country to the path of democratic transition,” Dujarric said, emphasizing that the United Nations was “serious about the escalating violence in Myanmar.” deeply concerned” and again urges uninterrupted human access.

Griffiths’ statement was issued by members of the United Nations Security Council as a closed-door meeting requested by the United Kingdom on Myanmar. Diplomats said Russia and China objected to a proposed press statement that would express concern over recent violence, including airstrikes, and reaffirm the council’s support for the country’s democratic transition, but discussions were on.

Britain’s Deputy Ambassador James Kariuki told reporters before leaving the meeting that Britain was particularly concerned about the build-up of military action in northwestern Chin state, “and we are concerned that this reflects the activity that we have seen.” Four years ago saw the atrocities that were committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine.

“Therefore, we are very keen to make sure that the council is focused, and the military knows we are watching,” he said.

Since Suu Kyi’s ouster, Myanmar has been mired in unrest, with peaceful demonstrations against ruling generals first turning into a low-level insurgency in several urban areas, when security forces used lethal force, and then In more severe fighting in rural areas, particularly along the border areas where ethnic minority militias have been involved in heavy conflict with government troops.

On 7 September, the National Unity Government, the main underground group coordinating the military’s resistance, set up by elected legislators who were barred from taking their seats when the military seized power, called for a nationwide uprising. did. Its “People’s Defense Forces” operate in many areas and have received training and weapons from some armed ethnic groups.

Christine Schraner Bergner told The Associated Press on October 31, shortly before her three-and-a-half-year stint as UN special envoy for Myanmar, that a “civil war” has spread across the country.

She said the United Nations had heard that many soldiers were carrying out “clearing operations” in Chin state, and reminded the world that the army’s “clearing operation” in Rakhine state in 2017 burned villages, widespread rape and killed 700,000. More and more Rohingya Muslims fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

Griffiths called the situation in the north-west “extremely worrying, with increased hostilities between the Myanmar Armed Forces and the Chinaland Defense Force in Chin State, and with the People’s Defense Forces in the Magwe and Sagaing regions”.

“More than 37,000 people, including women and children, have been newly displaced, and more than 160 homes have been burned, including churches and offices of a humanitarian organization,” Griffiths said. “Attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian workers and facilities, are expressly prohibited under international humanitarian law and must be stopped immediately.”

Since February 1, he said, violence across the country has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, and 223,000 people internally displaced.

Griffiths said, “This includes 165,000 in the southeast of the country and is on top of a significant population of people who were already displaced before the takeover in the Rakhine, Chin, Shan and Kachin states. ” He said that 144,000 Rohingya people are still living in camps or camp-like settings in Rakhine, many since their displacement in 2012, and that more than 105,000 people have been displaced in Kachin and Shan, over several years.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said he was “also concerned about reports of rising levels of food insecurity in and around urban areas, including Yangon and Mandalay.”


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