GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — The United Nations on Thursday urged the international community to deny Myanmar’s junta access to foreign weapons and currency as the conflict-wracked country’s humanitarian crisis deepens.
Myanmar was plunged into chaos after a 2021 coup ousted democratically elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking fighting between the military, ethnic rebel groups and newer “People’s Defence Forces”.
The UN and human rights groups have denounced alleged rights violations including attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, sexual violence and torture.
“We need to prevent the supply of arms to the military and to analyse the economic interests that are behind it,” said UN human rights chief Volker Turk.
In a new report presented to the UN Human Rights Council, Turk also called for “targeted measures” to limit the generals’ access to “foreign currency, aviation fuel and other means that enable attacks on Myanmar’s people”.
The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights for the Southeast Asian nation, Thomas Andrews, said foreign currency allowed the junta to buy arms, supply its weapons factories and refuel combat aircraft.
He added that other countries should join the United States in sanctioning Myanmar’s financial institutions and urged greater coordination among governments that have already imposed sanctions.
Turk accused the military of razing villages and said 3,747 people have died at the hands of the military since it took power, with more than 23,000 arrested.
Up to 40 aid workers have been killed since the coup, he added.
More than 15 million people urgently need food and nutrition support, he added, saying the army was deliberately preventing aid from reaching populations left stricken after the destruction caused by Cyclone Mocha.
The UN has already warned that obstruction or denial of humanitarian assistance may amount to serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.