Thousands of people have fled renewed fighting between the Burmese army and ethnic insurgents in the country’s remote north, a UN official said.
More than 4,000 people have been displaced in Myanmar’s northernmost state of Kachin near the border with China over the past three weeks, Mark Cutts, the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on Friday.
The number does not include about 15,000 people who have fled since the beginning of the year, and more than 90,000 residing in internally displaced persons camps in Kachin and Shan states since a ceasefire between the government and the Kachin Independence Army broke down in 2011.
“We have received reports from local organizations saying that there are still many civilians who remain trapped in conflict-affected areas,” Cutts said. “Our biggest concern is for the safety of civilians — including pregnant women, the elderly, small children and people with disabilities. We must ensure that these people are protected.”
The office has been unable to verify reports that civilians have been killed in the fighting.
Human Rights Watch also on Friday called for Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), days before a UN Security Council delegation is due to arrive in the country.
Myanmar has come under intense pressure since the start of a military campaign in August last year that has driven about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims over the border into Bangladesh, where refugees have provided consistent testimony of murder and rape by security forces and local mobs.
The UN delegation is to speak to refugees in the Bangladeshi camps before they head to Myanmar early next week to visit conflict-scarred Rakhine State.
They are also to meet with Burmese State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been denounced in the West for her failure to speak up for the Rohingya, a stateless minority that has faced decades of persecution in the largely Buddhist nation.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told reporters in Yangon that the UN Security Council should issue a resolution to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or else no one will be held accountable.
“The lack of a UN Security Council resolution has left the Myanmar government convinced that it has literally gotten away with mass murder,” he said.
Roth also called for targeted sanctions on perpetrators and an arms embargo.
Myanmar has rejected nearly all allegations that its security forces committed atrocities in Rakhine.
Earlier this month, it dismissed an attempt at the ICC to open a probe into the crisis, saying the court has no jurisdiction.
It took months for Myanmar to agree to the delegation’s visit after the UN leveled accusations of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine.
The visiting delegation is led by Britain, Peru and Kuwait, whose ambassador to the UN, Mansour al-Otaibi, has said the trip is not about “naming and shaming” Myanmar, but rather to show the country that the “international community is following the situation and has great interest in resolving it.”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big