UN special envoy calls on Myanmar for ceasefire in the New Year


Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer is deeply concerned by the continued escalation of violence in Kayin State and other parts of Myanmar, which displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, including women and children.

The ongoing violence has forced many to seek refuge across borders for protection and assistance, while many more are trapped within the country.

Ms. Heyzer echoes the UN Security Council’s call for all parties to exercise utmost restraint and seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people and their livelihood.

Demonstrations have been taking place in Myanmar ever since the military seized power in February, and security forces have responded with bloody crackdowns.

Some opponents of the junta have taken up arms, some of whom have linked up with ethnic minority groups fighting for self-determination, according to media reports.

“The people of Myanmar have already suffered tremendously and the socio-economic and humanitarian situation has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ms. Heyzer.

“Those inflicting suffering on its own people need to silence their guns and protect people in time of great need.  The future of Myanmar’s children counts on this.”

The Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) has also appealed for an immediate cessation of the violence, she recalled.

Ms. Heyzer urged all parties to act in the greater interest of the nation and to fully respect their obligations under international law to protect civilians, ensure free movement towards safety, and allow humanitarian access to those in need.

“To this end, she appeals for a New Year’s ceasefire throughout Myanmar,” the statement said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Ms. Heyzer as his Special Envoy on Myanmar back in October.  She succeeded Christine Shraner Burgener, who had served since April 2018.

Since beginning her assignment earlier this month, Ms. Heyzer said she has been actively consulting all stakeholders with a view to supporting a Myanmar-led process.

“The Special Envoy, supported by her Office, will engage directly with and listen carefully to all those affected by the ongoing crisis that has become multi-faced with serious regional implications,” the statement said.

“In this respect, the Special Envoy will continue to focus on mobilizing coherent international support grounded on regional unity.”

UN humanitarian chief calls for probe into the ‘grievous’ attack on civilians.

Meanwhile, authorities in Myanmar must investigate a deadly attack against civilians in Kayah state, the UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr. Griffiths said he was “horrified” by reports that at least 35 people, including at least one child, were killed in the attack, which occurred on Friday.  They reportedly were forced from their vehicles, killed and burned.

Two humanitarian workers from the aid organization Save the Children remain missing, he added, having been caught up in the violence. Their private vehicle was attacked and burned.

“I condemn this grievous incident and all attacks against civilians throughout the country, which are prohibited under international humanitarian law,” said Mr. Griffiths.

The UN continues to monitor developments in Myanmar in the wake of the military coup in February.

Earlier this month, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said it was appalled by the alarming escalation of grave human rights abuses.

Spokesperson Rupert Colville said serious violations are “reported daily of the rights to life, liberty and security of person, the prohibition against torture, the right to a fair trial, and freedom of expression”. (Source: UN News)