UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The people of Myanmar have high expectations from the United Nations and the international community after the February 1 coup, with many calling for sanctions and some urging the United Nations to send peacekeepers to stop the killing of peaceful protesters seeking to say the prominent UN official in the country On Friday the return to democracy.
Acting Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Andrew Kirkwood said in a videotaped briefing to UN correspondents from Yangon, the largest city of Myanmar, that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other UN officials were very consistent on what was really needed: “the collective actions of member states of the Security Council.” .
Guterres echoed that message on Friday, saying “there is an urgent need for a firm and unified international response” to stop the violence of the security forces and put Myanmar back on the path to democracy, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“A lot of people have seen people holding signs that say, ‘How many extra bodies?’” Kirkwood said. “People are really looking for coordinated international action on sanctions,” he added. Frankly, some people here want to see the peacekeepers. “
“There are high expectations from the United Nations, with the entire international community. We are doing everything we can in the current situation, and there is still frustration among the people because the international community has not done more for history,” he said.
The coup reflected years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades has suffered from strict military rule that has led to isolation and international sanctions. When the generals loosened their grip, culminating in Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to power after the 2015 elections, the international community responded by lifting most of the sanctions and pumping investment into the country.
The Security Council adopted a presidential statement – one step after the resolution – on March 10 calling for a reversal of the coup, strongly condemning the violence against peaceful protesters and calling for the army to “the utmost restraint.” She stressed the need to support “democratic institutions and processes” and called for the immediate release of the detained government leaders, including Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
The statement is weaker than the initial draft distributed by the United Kingdom, which would have condemned the coup and threatened “possible measures under the UN Charter” – the UN’s sanction language – “if the situation deteriorates further.”
Diplomats said that council members China and India, both of whom are neighbors of Myanmar, as well as Russia and Vietnam, which alongside Myanmar is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, objected to clauses in earlier stronger drafts of the statement.
Getting Security Council approval for UN sanctions or peacekeepers will be an arduous struggle. This is because it will require support or abstinence from China, which is a councilor with veto power, calls itself a friend of Myanmar and has an anti-sanctions policy.
The United Nations also viewed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as the regional power to take the lead in trying to end the crisis.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the leader of Southeast Asia’s largest economy, urged an immediate end to the violence on Friday and called for a summit of ASEAN leaders on the coup.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which Brunei currently chairs, faces internal divisions in agreeing on a major measure against Myanmar.
Without it, the death toll continues to mount as protesters refuse to accept the coup.
Kirkwood said that at least 211 people were killed in the seven weeks since the military took power, including at least 15 children, some as young as 14. He confirmed that many were killed by a sniper in the head.
He said that at least 2,400 people were arrested on suspicion of participating in the demonstrations. “The vast majority of these people are still being held incommunicado, and there are increasing reports of sexual violence against them.”
Before the coup, Kirkwood said, the United Nations was providing humanitarian aid to more than a million people. As a result of the coup, “we are very concerned about an impending humanitarian crisis.”
“Two million people live in martial law areas in the industrial suburbs,” Kirkwood said. “In just the past few days, tens of thousands of people have fled those areas under martial law, and there are desperate interviews with families who are carrying whatever they can as they return to the villages they left a decade ago to come to the city for a better life.”
Additionally, Kirkwood said: “The government health system has practically collapsed, and security forces occupied 36 hospitals across the country, and in some cases patients were evacuated from those hospitals.”
There is also a banking crisis that has caused major disruptions to supply chains and logistics services, Kirkwood said, and last month food prices rose by nearly 20% in some places, the main result of growing fuel shortages and transportation difficulties.
“What we might be looking at is a slow-burning food crisis,” he said. “What we fear is that the situation will really deteriorate with reduced transportation links and people’s access to agricultural inputs, and the displacement of people from their regular homes and farms.”
“We haven’t seen a significant increase in the number of people needing food yet, but this is a major concern for us over time,” Kirkwood said.
He said the United Nations had better access to Rakhine State, where some 600,000 Rohingya Muslims live in difficult conditions after more than 700,000 Rohingya fled a military campaign in 2017 into neighboring Bangladesh.
“The protests and acts of violence have not spread in Rakhine as it has spread to the rest of the country,” Kirkwood said. “So in terms of humanitarian issues, it’s a small bright spot in a totally dark picture otherwise.”