UN’s ‘deep concern’ at Myanmar fighting between Rakhine rebels and military

The UN security council has expressed its “deep concern” about unrest in Myanmar and called for an “immediate cessation of violence” as well as efforts to ensure civilians are not harmed.

Reports have emerged of clashes between junta troops and fighters from a major militant group in Rakhine state. The security council warned that “recent developments pose particular serious challenges for the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons.”

The clashes, reported by a rebel spokesman, broke a ceasefire that had kept the peace in the western region since a coup in February by the military. Myanmar has been in chaos ever since, con un brutal crackdown on dissent and increased fighting in borderlands involving ethnic armed organisations.

The council called for an “equitable, safe and unhindered delivery and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines” as well as “safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need”.

“They underlined that vaccines should be accessible to all and called for greater international support to ensure the availability of Covid-19 vaccines and to expedite their rollout,” a statement said.

Days after the February coup, the junta reaffirmed a commitment to a ceasefire with the Arakan Army (AA), which has fought a bloody war for autonomy for the Rakhine state’s ethnic Rakhine population. The ceasefire freed up military troops to battle local “self-defence forces” that have sprung up across the country in opposition to the military. An AA spokesman told AFP on Wednesday that clashes broke out after the “Myanmar military entered the area. Casualty details are not known yet.”

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