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United Nations Reports Over 3 Million Displaced from Myanmar Conflict

The United Nations says the number displaced has jumped by 50 percent in last 6 months as fighting has intensified

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United Nations Reports Over 3 Million Displaced from Myanmar Conflict
Burmese people flee Myawaddy Myanmar: File Image

The United Nations reports that number of people in Myanmar forced from their homes by conflict now exceeds more than 3 million as fighting between pro-democracy fighters and the ruling Junta intensifies.

According to the UN, the number of displaced has increased by 50 percent in the previous six months as conflict between the military and armed groups tries to overthrow the generals who took control in a coup in February 2021.

“Myanmar has this week marked a bleak milestone, with more than 3 million civilians now displaced nationwide amid intensifying conflict,” the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar said in a statement on Monday.

“Myanmar stands at the precipice in 2024 with a deepening humanitarian crisis that has spiraled since the military takeover in February 2021 and the consequent conflicts in many parts of the country, driving record numbers of people to abandon their homes seeking safety.”

According to the UN, more than 90 percent of the 3 million internally displaced persons left as a result of the coup-related fighting.

Approximately half of those relocated live in the northwestern regions of Chin, Magway, and Sagaing, with over 900,000 in the southeast. Around 356,000 people live in the western state of Rakhine, where a harsh military assault in 2017 forced over 750,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya to escape to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Myanmar 2021 Military Coup

Myanmar was plunged into turmoil when Senior General Min Aung Hlaing took control from Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic government, sparking large protests that escalated into an armed uprising when the military used deadly force.

Fighting has risen since the end of October last year, when ethnic armed groups linked with anti-coup rebels launched a massive attack in northern Shan and western Rakhine states, overrunning dozens of military installations and seizing control of several strategic towns along the Chinese border.

In recent weeks, the military has also clashed with ethnic Karen groups over control of Myawaddy, a vital commerce corridor on Thailand’s border. According to the UN, the intensifying violence has resulted in 18.6 million people in Myanmar in need of humanitarian assistance, 1 million more than in 2023.

However, it stated that “gross underfunding” is impeding efforts to assist individuals in need. It stated that it has received less than 5% of the funding required for humanitarian activities.

“With cyclone season fast approaching, additional resources are needed now to protect the most vulnerable and save lives,” the statement continued.

Last year, UN human rights official Volker Turk accused the military of obstructing life-saving humanitarian help from reaching those in need by erecting a maze of legal, regulatory, and financial barriers.

Access to Aung San Suu Kyi

The generals, who have been accused of launching airstrikes on civilians and burning villages to the ground, have ignored a five-point peace plan agreed upon with fellow ASEAN members in April 2021, which was supposed to put an end to the violence.

Hun Sen, Cambodia’s former Prime Minister, urged Myanmar’s ruling general on Tuesday to enable him to talk with incarcerated Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi via video conference, a request he said the junta head would examine.

Hun Sen, who resigned to make way for his son last year after nearly four decades in power in Cambodia, chatted with Min Aung Hlaing, the general who led the coup against Suu Kyi’s democratic administration, by video phone on Tuesday.

In a Facebook post including a video of the two speaking, Hun Sen stated that Min Aung Hlaing promised to give the request “high consideration”. Cambodia would send a special envoy to Myanmar, Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen, the current president of Cambodia’s Senate, has no official mediation role in Myanmar’s post-coup situation, and it is unclear why he has requested access to Suu Kyi.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been monitoring the situation, estimates that the military has killed around 5,000 individuals since the coup.

More than 20,000 people are detained, and Aung San Suu Kyi is serving a cumulative 27-year sentence following a secret trial in a military court.

Source: Al Jazeera.

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