Nearly 40,000 people from Myanmar are currently displaced in neighbouring India and Thailand since the military coup in the southeast Asian nation in February last year, a spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General, said at the daily press briefing on Wednesday that according to UN humanitarian colleagues, the number of internally displaced men, women and children in Myanmar has now exceeded one million.
This includes some 700,000 people displaced by fighting and insecurity since the military takeover in February last year. In addition, some nearly 40,000 people from Myanmar are currently displaced in neighbouring India and Thailand, he said.
He added that since April this year, the monsoons have damaged shelters for internally displaced people who were already living in difficult conditions in Rakhine, Kachin, southern Shan, and Kayin states.
Aid agencies and their local partners are working to provide displaced people and host communities with food, clean water, shelter, medicines, hygiene kits, COVID-19 preventive items, protection services, and other essential services, he said, adding that during the first quarter of 2022, aid workers have reached 2.6 million people, despite difficulties with access as well as limited funding.
To reach all of the 6.2 million people in Myanmar who need humanitarian aid, we need improved access, the removal of bottlenecks such as visa delays and banking restrictions, and of course, increased funding, he said.
To date, only 10 per cent of the USD 826 million the UN has asked for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan has been received.
“Inflation in the prices for food, fuel, shelter materials and other items has further limited our operations. We call again on donors to give generously to save and protect the lives of women, men and children,” he said.
Myanmar’s military seized control on February 1, 2021 after a general election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.
In December 2021, a special court in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw had sentenced the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to four years in prison after finding her guilty of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions.
The sentencing was the first in a series of cases in which the 76-year-old Nobel laureate is being prosecuted since the army seized power on Feb 1, 2021, preventing her National League for Democracy party from starting a second five-year term in office. The ousted leader faces verdicts on other charges as well.
If found guilty in all the cases she faces, she could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. The special court did not make clear whether Suu Kyi would be sent to prison for the two convictions or placed under house arrest, the legal official said. In her long struggle for democracy, she has served 15 years of house arrest starting in 1989.
The convictions were met quickly with severe criticism. Yanghee Lee, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, described the charges as well as the verdict as “bogus”, declaring that any trial held in the country is unfair as the judiciary is subservient to the military-installed government.
Rights groups also deplored the verdicts, with Amnesty International calling them “the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar.”