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Saturday, June 26, 2021

UN says some 230,000 people displaced by fighting in coup-hit Myanmar

PRESS TV
Thursday, 24 June 2021
Children and elders line up for food distribution in the eastern town of Namlan, Myanmar, on May 25, 2021, after being displaced from fighting between the military troops and ethnic forces. (Photo by AFP)


The United Nations says an estimated 230,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Myanmar and need humanitarian assistance, several months after the military took power and plunged the Southeast Asian country into chaos.

Turmoil has gripped Myanmar since de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) were ousted on February 1 through a military coup, with near-daily protests and a nationwide civil disobedience movement.

Protesters are demanding the restoration of civilian rule and the release of Suu Kyi and her associates, who have been under arrest ever since.

The junta seized power over alleged fraud in general elections won by Suu Kyi's party in November. The allegations of fraud have been dismissed by the former electoral commission, dozens of whose officials are now locked up.

Almost 877 people have been killed and more than 6,000 others arrested since the putsch, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group. The junta, however, has claimed that the civilian death toll stands at nearly 300.

The use of lethal force against unarmed civilians has drawn international condemnation.

On Thursday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the fighting has displaced 177,000 people in Karen state bordering Thailand, including 103,000 in the past month.

It added that more than 20,000 people were also sheltering at 100 displacement areas after fighting between People's Defense Forces and the army in Chin State bordering India.

The UN humanitarian agency further said relief operations were ongoing but were being hindered by armed clashes, violence, and insecurity in the country.
Thousands of people have fled clashes in northern Kachin and Shan states, which have established ethnic minority armies with a long history of hostilities with the military.

The Karen National Union (KNU), one of Myanmar's oldest ethnic minority groups, expressed concern in a statement about the military's excessive use of force and the loss of innocent civilian lives as fighting intensifies across the country.

“The KNU will continue to fight against military dictatorship and provide as much protection as possible to people and unarmed civilians," it said.

The military has placed commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing in power and pledged to hold fresh elections in a year and hand over power to the winner.

On Friday, the UN General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution with the support of 119 countries calling on “all member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.”
Myanmar crisis: UN resolution seeks halt to arms flow, fails to address Rohingya plight


Diplomatic efforts by Southeast Asian countries to end the violence and initiate dialogue between all sides in Myanmar have stalled as the coup leaders say they will stick to their plan of “restoring order” and holding elections in two years.

Myanmar was ruled by the military from 1962 until 2011 when Suu Kyi ended the junta rule.

However, her international reputation has been tarnished because she defended a military campaign of "genocide" against the minority Rohingya Muslim community in 2017.


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