The United Nations Security Council expresses new concern over the Myanmar crisis

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BANGKOK (AP) – The United Nations Security Council has issued a statement expressing “deep concern” at the ongoing violence in Myanmar, whose military government is using force against opponents.

Security Council action comes as the Myanmar military appears to be undertaking a major offensive in the country’s northwest amid warnings that the humanitarian situation across the country is worsening dramatically, with food shortages and a weakened public health system. .

A press release carries less weight than an official resolution and can serve as a means of reaching consensus among Security Council members that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. The body appears to be forced to take more serious action because two of its permanent members, Russia and China, maintain friendly relations with the current government of Myanmar.

The Myanmar military seized power in February, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The takeover met with widespread public outcry which was suppressed by the use of deadly force. In response, armed opposition to the military government has arisen and several UN experts have warned that the Southeast Asian nation is in danger of falling into civil war.

The Security Council statement, issued Wednesday in New York, said it “stressed the importance of measures to improve the health and humanitarian situation in Myanmar, including to facilitate the fair, safe and unhindered delivery and distribution of vaccines. COVID-19”.

It also called for “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need and the full protection, safety and security of humanitarian and medical personnel”. The security situation in Myanmar, as well as the difficulties encountered by humanitarian agencies in obtaining permission from the government to operate in remote areas, have severely limited the flow of assistance.

On Monday, the UN humanitarian chief urged Myanmar’s military leaders to provide unhindered access to the more than 3 million people in need of life-saving assistance “due to growing conflict and insecurity, COVID-19 and a economy in crisis “.

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

The new Council statement reaffirmed support for Myanmar’s democratic transition and also reiterated its earlier call on the military “to exercise utmost restraint”. The government blames the violence of opposition groups, some of which it has officially designated “terrorist” organizations.

The council also reiterated its support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ role in helping to end the violence and political crisis. He called for the implementation of a five-point program suggested by ASEAN, including a visit to Myanmar by the special envoy of the regional group.

A scheduled initial visit by the envoy to Myanmar was canceled when the government refused to allow him to visit Suu Kyi, who has been detained by the takeover and been tried on charges her supporters and others believe are false.

The government said the envoy cannot meet her due to her legal situation. His lack of access led Myanmar’s leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, not to be allowed to attend an ASEAN summit last month, an unprecedented rebuke to a member of the organization.

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