230,000 People Displaced By Violence In Myanmar

The United Nations humanitarian agency estimates that 230,000 people have been displaced by violence and fighting in Myanmar this year and need assistance.

There has been turmoil in Myanmar since army chief Min Aung Hlaing led a coup against the elected government in February, resulting in nationwide protests, mass civil disobedience, and the formation of civilian armies.

In its report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) concluded that displaced people and communities in affected areas require a large range of humanitarian assistance, including food and basic household materials, shelter, healthcare, water, sanitation, as well as psychosocial support.

Several UN agencies reported that relief operations were underway, but were hampered by armed clashes, violence, and insecurity in the country.

In Karen state bordering Thailand, 177,000 people have been displaced – 103,000 in the past month – and more than 20,000 are sheltering in over 100 displacement areas following clashes between the People’s Defense Forces and the army in Chin state bordering India.

Thousands of people have also fled the fighting in northern Kachin and Shan States, where ethnic minority armies have long been fighting the military.

Karen National Union (KNU), one of Myanmar’s leading ethnic minority armed groups, expressed concern about the loss of civilian lives, the escalating violence, and the excessive use of force by the military.

“The KNU will continue to fight military dictatorship and provide as much protection as possible to people and unarmed civilians,” the group said in a statement.

The protests took place in Kachin State, Dawei, Sagaing Region, and Yangon, with demonstrators carrying banners and making the three-finger gesture of defiance.

Recently, the army and a newly formed rebel group engaged in a fierce firefight in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, the first sign of armed clashes in a major urban center since the coup.

Myanmar has been racked by protests almost every day since the coup. An uprising in the country has been met with a brutal crackdown that has killed at least 877 civilians, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a local monitoring group, which the military regime has declared illegal.

As a diplomatic effort to end the crisis and initiate dialogue by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has failed, the generals are sticking by their plan of restoring order and holding a new election in two years.

Senior officials of the East Asian Summit, which includes ASEAN, were urged by the United States on Thursday to “take immediate action to hold the Burmese regime accountable to the ASEAN five-point consensus”. As part of the joint action, Senior Bureau Official Kin Moy called on the Burmese military to end the violence, release those unjustly detained, and restore Burma to the path of democracy.

Last week, the UN passed a resolution condemning the coup and calling on the military to stop violence against peaceful demonstrators, who continue to take to the streets every day.

The UN General Assembly resolution, however, did not call for a global arms embargo against Myanmar’s military.

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