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Millions in Myanmar ‘need life-saving aid’

The UN’s humanitarian chief has urged Myanmar’s military leaders to provide unimpeded access to the more than three million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance since government forces seized power on February 1.

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

Monday was the first anniversary of the 2020 elections in Myanmar, which “were deemed free and fair by domestic and international observers”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

They were won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party with approximately 80 per cent of the elected seats.

The military rejects the results, claiming the vote was fraudulent.

“The United Nations reiterates its call on the military to respect the will of the people and put the country back on track to democratic transition,” Mr Dujarric said.

Mr Griffiths’ statement was issued as members of the UN Security Council held a behind-closed-doors meeting on Myanmar requested by the United Kingdom.

Diplomats said Russia and China objected to a proposed press statement that would express concern at recent violence including air strikes and reaffirm the council’s support for the country’s democratic transition, but discussions were continuing.


UK deputy ambassador James Kariuki told reporters before heading into the meeting that Britain is particularly concerned about the buildup of military action in northwest Chin state, “and we are concerned that this rather mirrors the activity we saw four years ago ahead of the atrocities that were committed in Rakhine against the Rohingya” Muslim minority.

“So, we’re very keen to make sure the council is focused, and the military know that we’re watching,” he said.

Since the overthrow of Suu Kyi, Myanmar has been wracked by unrest, with peaceful demonstrations against the ruling generals morphing first into a low-level insurgency in many urban areas after security forces used deadly force and then into more serious combat in rural areas, especially in border regions where ethnic minority militias have been engaging in heavy clashes with government troops.

Christine Schraner Burgener told The Associated Press shortly before her three-year term as the UN special envoy for Myanmar ended on October 31 “civil war” has spread throughout the country.

She said the UN has heard many soldiers are on the ground conducting “clearing operations” in Chin state, and reminded the world the military’s “clearing operation” in Rakhine state in 2017 saw villages burned down, widespread rape and led more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

“More than 37,000 people, including women and children, have been newly displaced, and more than 160 homes have been burned, including churches and the offices of a humanitarian organisation,” the UN’s Griffiths said.

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


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