UN says 100,000 flee fighting in Myanmar border state

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Kayah

The United Nations said on Tuesday an estimated 100,000 people in Myanmar’s Kayah state had been displaced by fighting that included “indiscriminate attacks by security forces” in civilian areas.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a military coup on Feb. 1, with daily protests in towns and cities and fighting in borderlands between the military and ethnic minority militias, some of which have only existed for a few weeks.

“This crisis could push people across international borders seeking safety, as already seen in other parts of the country,” the United Nations in Myanmar said in a statement.

It urged all parties to “urgently take the necessary measures and precautions to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure”.

Myanmar’s foreign minister defended the junta’s plan for restoring democracy, state media reported on Tuesday, after a meeting at which his counterparts from ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states pressed the junta to honour a consensus agreement to halt violence and start dialogue with its opponents.

The foreign ministers on Monday expressed disappointment at a meeting in China with Myanmar’s “very slow” progress in implementing a five-point plan that it agreed to, by consensus, at an ASEAN summit in April.

State media cited the junta’s envoy, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, as telling the meeting the military had made progress on its own five-step road map, unveiled after the coup.

That plan has few similarities with the ASEAN blueprint and centres on investigating alleged fraud in November’s election, managing Myanmar’s coronavirus epidemic and organising another election, after which the junta has promised to cede power.

“The minister apprised the meeting that the only way to ensure the democratic system that is disciplined and genuine was through the five-point future programme that was declared in February,” the daily Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The military has defended its takeover by saying that the old election commission ignored its complaints of fraud by Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party.

Wunna Maung Lwin on Tuesday met separately with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and told him Myanmar was “committed to maintaining national stability and social tranquillity”, according to a statement by China.—Reuters