United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths warned on Monday that the humanitarian situation in Myanmar was deteriorating with more than 3 million people in need of life-saving aid due to a growing conflict and failing economy.
The U.N. Security Council also met behind closed doors on Monday to discuss Myanmar. The meeting coincides with the first anniversary of the re-election of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, which was then ousted by the military in a Feb. 1 coup.
“Those polls were deemed free and fair by domestic and international observers,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday. “The United Nations reiterates its call on the military to respect the will of the people and put the country back on track to democratic transition.”
Britain requested the council meeting because “we are particularly concerned about the build-up of military action in the northwest of the country, and we are concerned that this rather mirrors the activity we saw four years ago ahead of the atrocities that were committed in Rakhine against the Rohingya,” Britain’s deputy U.N. Ambassador James Kariuki told reporters.
Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice over a 2017 military crackdown on the Rohingya that forced more than 730,000 people to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar denies genocide and says its armed forces were legitimately targeting militants who attacked police posts.
Griffiths also said in a statement that the situation in the northwest of Myanmar had become “extremely concerning” as fighting escalated between the Myanmar military and the Chinland Defence Force in Chin state and the Myanmar military and the People’s Defence Forces in Magway and Sagaing regions.
“More than 37,000 people, including women and children, have been newly displaced, and more than 160 homes have been burned, including churches and the offices of a humanitarian organization,” Griffiths said.
He said attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian workers and facilities, are banned under international humanitarian law and “must stop immediately.”