EU, US, others alarmed at ‘increasing harm to civilians’ in Myanmar

They particularly expressed concern at reports tens of thousands of civilians in Rakhine State have been forced to flee their homes

The EU, United States and other countries jointly voiced alarm Friday at the worsening conflict in Myanmar and the “increasing harm to civilians” it was bringing.

They particularly expressed concern at reports tens of thousands of civilians in Rakhine State — where the Rohingya minority live — have been forced to flee their homes, and called on “all armed actors to ensure the protection of civilians”.

ALSO READ: Two killed in Bangladesh as fighting rages on Myanmar border: police

The signatories of the joint statement — the EU, United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland — stressed “there must be accountability for all atrocities committed in Myanmar”.

Earlier Friday, the United Nations warned that escalating fighting in Rakhine had forced around 45,000 Rohingya to flee, amid allegations of killings and burnings of property.

Clashes have rocked the state since the Arakan Army, which says it is fighting to deliver more autonomy to its ethnic Rakhine population, attacked ruling junta forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since a military coup in 2021.

The signatories to the statement said they were “deeply concerned by the escalating conflict in Myanmar and in particular the increasing harm to civilians, which are driving a worsening and devastating human rights and humanitarian crisis across the country”.

They pointed to credible reports of civilians being targeted and of torture, the use of civilians as human shields, and sexual violence against women and children.

They blamed the government for food and water shortages and cut-off access for medical and other aid.

“In Rakhine State, towns and villages have been consistently targeted by the military regime and armed groups,” the statement said.

ALSO READ: China says mediated ‘immediate ceasefire’ between Myanmar army and armed alliance

“Reports of forced recruitment, including of Rohingya, is further dividing communities and exploiting tensions and mistrust. All populations are facing extreme levels of food insecurity.

“The situation is increasingly dangerous for all civilians, including Rakhine, Rohingya and other ethnic communities,” it said.

The EU, United States and their allies behind the statement urged an immediate end to the violence, and for other countries to stop sending military supplies, including aviation fuel, to Myanmar.

They also called for the release of arbitrarily detained prisoners and for dialogue “so that democracy can be restored in full”.

© Agence France-Presse

Read more on these topics

Human Rights Myanmar (Burma)

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.