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UN warns over 3 million people need 'life-saving' aid in Myanmar

Over 3 million people are in need of “life-saving” aid in Myanmar after the military there seized power and ousted the civilian government, the UN’s humanitarian chief said on Monday.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, said that in the wake of the junta’s Feb. 1 coup, Myanmar has been gripped by “growing conflict and insecurity, COVID-19 and a failing economy,” warning that without a political resolution to the crisis the number of people in need of assistance “will only rise.”

Humanitarian workers have already provided 1.67 million people with food, cash and nutrition assistance this year alone, according to UN figures, but face constraints posed by a “lack of humanitarian access and funds.”

“Access to many people in desperate need across the country remains extremely limited due to bureaucratic impediments put in place by the armed forces,” Griffiths said in a statement as the Security Council met behind closed doors on the crisis in Myanmar. “I call on the Myanmar armed forces — and all parties — to facilitate safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access.”

Griffiths further called on the international community to fund relief work, saying less than half of a $385 million funding plan established after the military takeover has been received.

“The people of Myanmar need our help to ensure that their basic rights are upheld and they can live with dignity,” he said. “The world is watching.”

Myanmar’s military arrested leaders and officials of the ruling National League for Democracy party, including de facto leader and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, on Feb. 1, and declared a one-year state of emergency.

Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at least 37,000 people, including women and children, had been displaced due to the recent escalation of conflict in the country’s northwest.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitor, more than 1,240 people have been killed and over 7,100 others have been arrested, charged or sentenced amid the military’s brutal crackdown on mass protests and rebellions against its rule.

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