UN urges Myanmar military to allow critical aid access as post-coup crisis escalates

The United Nations’ top humanitarian relief official has made a plea to Myanmar’s ruling military, urging them to provide greater access to assistance for the country’s 18 million people in desperate need. The situation has been described as dire due to escalating conflict following the military coup.

According to a report, during a three-day mission that included a meeting with senior general Min Aung Hlaing, Martin Griffiths highlighted the shortage of funding as a major obstacle in reaching the one-third of Myanmar’s population requiring aid. The country has been in turmoil since the military seized power, reversing a decade of reforms that had brought some semblance of civilian rule.

In a statement, Griffiths emphasised the urgent need for humanitarian support, saying, “Myanmar is facing consecutive crises that have left a third of the population in need. The people expect more from their leaders and the international community.”

The military’s harsh crackdown on dissent has led to the rise of an armed resistance movement, resulting in widespread clashes with security forces and the displacement of over a million people.

Griffiths highlighted the challenges faced by humanitarian organizations due to insufficient resources and appealed for greater contributions from international donors. He expressed concern about the obstacles created by civilian restrictions and bureaucratic barriers that hinder the delivery of aid.

The UN agency reported a five-fold increase in displaced individuals due to conflicts and natural disasters since the 2021 coup, rising from 380,000 to 1.9 million.

Relations between the United Nations and the ruling junta have been strained, with multiple investigations implicating the military in civilian atrocities. The military, however, has denied these accusations. A UN Human Rights report in June stated that the lack of access to aid could potentially amount to war crimes, while a team of UN investigators recently noted a rise in the frequency and audacity of such crimes.

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