InterAction condemns egregious actions taken by the Myanmar military and non-state armed groups one year on from the coup and calls on all conflict parties to adhere to international law.
The humanitarian situation in Myanmar has become a neglected, multi-dimensional crisis since the military’s coup on February 1, 2021. The yearlong political and security instability, including escalating violence linked to disruption of essential services, compounded by deteriorating socio-economic conditions, a COVID-19 pandemic, and associated secondary effects, have left an estimated 14.4 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance. Out of the 6.2 million people prioritized for urgent assistance in 2022, 52% are women, 32% are children, and 13% are persons with disabilities.
The egregious actions taken by the Myanmar military are widespread and systematic across the country and have resulted in the deprivation of fundamental human rights and civilian casualties, such as the death of 1,500 civilians, including more than two aid workers, and the use of civilians as human shields. These actions have resulted in over 32,000 new refugees, the forcible internal displacement of over 400,000 people—in addition to the 340,000 already internally displaced—and the harassment and detention of more than 8,000 people. Health workers, humanitarian relief workers, and public infrastructures such as schools and hospitals are not spared from being targeted and attacked by all conflict parties, including non-state armed groups. This has further impeded or completely prohibited the delivery of humanitarian aid to some populations.
Humanitarian aid groups have experienced a maze of intentional and unintentional bureaucratic and administrative impediments in Myanmar for years, such as securing visas and travel authorizations, registering with the de facto authorities, and renewing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). The NGO community is now facing additional, unprecedented access challenges, resulting in conflict-affected communities not being able to access the lifesaving aid they are entitled to because of the escalating conflict, violence, and destruction of infrastructure. Further, the disruption of banking services and the limited availability of cash are additional roadblocks for the provision of humanitarian relief as many people have been unable to access their savings to fund their survival due to banking restrictions and a cash liquidity crisis.
InterAction condemns these egregious actions by the Myanmar military and non-state armed groups and calls for all parties to the conflict to adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law. InterAction further calls for an independent, international investigation into the widespread and systematic acts of violence across the country and for identified perpetrators, including those with command responsibility, to be held accountable in an impartial court of law. InterAction calls on all conflict parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law by facilitating free and unfettered humanitarian access and the provision of lifesaving aid to all civilians in need, free from discrimination of any kind.
Lastly, InterAction calls on donors to support civil society and local organizations through flexible and diversified funding, as well as strong and equitable partnerships, to deliver humanitarian assistance. Donors must also push for international actors to hold strategic dialogue with all parties of the conflict to find long-term solutions to the root causes of the humanitarian crisis in-country and identify durable solutions for the people of Myanmar.
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