A United Nations rights expert has warned of “mass starvation, disease and exposure” in eastern Myanmar following “brutal indiscriminate attacks” by the military that forced tens of thousands of people to flee the country. their homes in the state of Kayah.
In a statement on Wednesday, Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur for Myanmar, called for urgent international action and said the attacks by the military – who took power after a February coup – “they threatened the lives of many thousands of men, women and children.” ”In the state of Kayah or Karenni.
“Let me get dirty,” Andrews said. “Massive deaths from starvation, disease and exposure, on a scale we have not yet seen since the February 1 coup, could have occurred in Kayah State if there was no immediate action.”
Mass deaths from starvation, disease and exposure could occur in Kayah state after many of the 100,000 forced to flee into the woods from Board bombs are now cut off from food, water and medicine by the Board. The international community must act. My full statement below. pic.twitter.com/69fxZHRMN7
– A special rapporteur Tom Andrews (@RporterUn) June 8, 2021
The request came hours after the UN office in Myanmar said there was violence in Kayah displaced it is estimated that there are 100,000 people, who were now looking for safety in the forests, host communities and parts of the southern Shan state.
Those fleeing and those in places affected by the bombing and artillery were in dire need of food, water, shelter, fuel and access to health care, the UN office said in a statement.
“This crisis could push people at international borders to seek security,” he warned, urging all parties to “take the necessary measures and precautions to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
Myanmar has been in chaos since the military takeover, with daily protests across the country and fighting in border areas between the military and armed minority ethnic groups. Human rights groups say security forces have killed at least 849 people since the coup and detained 5,800 more.
People living in Kayah told Al Jazeera that the military has released on May 21, indiscriminate airstrikes and bombings in civilian areas erupted after fighting between security forces and a civil resistance group calling itself the Karenni People’s Defense Force (KPDF).
There have been several deaths, including that of a 14-year-old boy who was shot dead in Loikaw township and a young man who was shot in the head with his hands tied behind his back. The army has repeatedly attacked churches in the predominantly Christian area, and in one case has killed four people who were among 300 refugee villagers in a Catholic church in Loikaw.
“Slowly painful progress” on the ASEAN plan
Security forces have also attacked and threatened humanitarian workers, while Andrews said he had received reports that soldiers “stopped helping to reach these desperate people” by establishing military blockades and placing landmines on public roads.
“Any pressure or leverage that UN member states may exert on the Board must be exercised so that Board Leader Min Aung Hlaing can immediately: (1): open access routes and allow the it helps to save lives reach those in need and (2) stop terrorizing the population by ceasing aerial bombardment, bombing and civilian shootings. “
Andrews said the military attacks on civilians in Kayah were the “last in a series across Myanmar that caused mass displacement and humanitarian suffering, including in Mutraw in Karen state, Mindat in Chin state and the city of Bago, among other areas “.
“Now more than ever, the international community must cut off access to the resources on which the board is based to continue these brutal attacks on the people of Myanmar,” he added.
So far, Myanmar’s army has ignored international criticism of its violent repression and has shown little evidence of a “five-point consensus” agreed between Min Aung Hlaing and Southeast Asian leaders in the April. The agreement, reached at a special summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called for an end to violence, political talks and the appointment of a regional special envoy.
On Monday, ASEAN foreign ministers met with a Myanmar military envoy to Chongqing, China, and expressed concern over the army’s “painfully slow” progress in implementing the consensus. Wunna Maung Lwin, the army’s foreign minister, however, told the meeting: “The only way to ensure a democratic system that is disciplined and genuine” was through a five-point program drafted by the army announced in the wake of the February coup.
This plan bears little resemblance to the ASEAN consensus and includes the establishment of a new election commission (the military has stated without evidence that the November 2020 elections were fraudulent) measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as efforts for economic recovery.
Meanwhile, China has supported the ASEAN plan.
In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said Wang met with Wunna Maung Lwin and called for the implementation of the “five-point consensus” and an end to “all forms of violence” in Myanmar.
“We encourage all parties in Myanmar to engage in political dialogue within the legal and constitutional framework and restart the process of democratic transformation,” Wang said in the statement.