Nine members of the UN Security Council on Monday condemned “indiscriminate” airstrikes by Myanmar’s military against civilians before an envoy briefed the council on Monday as part of regional efforts to implement a peace plan that has so far been largely ineffective.
The plan, adopted in April 2021 shortly after the military seized power in a takeover that sparked a civil war, calls for the immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar, a dialogue among all concerned parties, mediation by a special envoy from the ASEAN, provision of humanitarian aid through ASEAN channels and a visit to Myanmar by the special envoy to meet all concerned parties.
Veteran diplomat Alounkeo Kittikhoun — the special envoy to Myanmar from this year’s ASEAN chair, Laos, and a former UN ambassador — addressed a closed council meeting on behalf of the 10-member ASEAN.
Kittikhoun committed to implementing ASEAN’s “five-point consensus” for peace in Myanmar through continued “quiet diplomacy,” said a council diplomat familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.
The military leadership in Myanmar has so far ignored the plan, and violence and the humanitarian crisis in the country have been growing at a rapid pace.
Before the council meeting, nine of the 15 council members stood before reporters to support a statement read by British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward, which echoed ASEAN’s call urging Myanmar’s armed forces, “in particular, to cease its attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
The military seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021, and is facing an armed pro-democracy resistance movement that is assisted by ethnic minority fighting forces. The military stepped up airstrikes after the three ethnic minority armed groups launched a major offensive in late October, seizing towns in the country’s northeast, along with major border crossings for trade with China.
The nine council members — Ecuador, France, Japan, Malta, South Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, the UK and the US — said that, three years after the military takeover, more than 18 million people need humanitarian aid and 2.6 million remain displaced.
At an ASEAN ministerial meeting on Jan. 29, Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith told reporters that Thailand was moving ahead with plans to provide more humanitarian assistance to Myanmar. The nine nations reiterated the council’s appeal for improved humanitarian access.
They expressed increasing concern at the situation in Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh, where more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims fled starting in August 2017, when the military in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar launched a brutal “clearance operation” against them following attacks by the insurgent Arakan Army. The Arakan Army is part of the alliance of ethnic minority fighters.
Bangladesh official on Monday said that more than 100 members of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police fled fighting with the Arakan Army in Rakhine over the past two days and entered Bangladesh, the first time Burmese forces have been known to flee the country since the ethnic minority armies’ offensive began.
The nine council nations expressed increasing concern that the Rohingya still in Myanmar, who have faced systematic discrimination for decades, are contending with more restrictions on freedom of movement, as well as the denial of access to medicine and medical care.
Burmese Ambassador to UN Kyaw Moe Tun, who still represents Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted government, on Monday urged the Security Council on Monday to adopt a stronger, enforceable resolution, saying: “Democratic forces are gaining ground and the military junta is losing every day.”
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