The United Nations urges to a ceasefire in Western Myanmar’s conflict

A dozen Rohingya refugees travelling over Bangladesh-Myanmar border A dozen Rohingya refugees travelling over Bangladesh-Myanmar border Reuters

28 June 2020

The conflict in Rakhine and southern Chin is causing severe civilian displacement, provoking international humanitarian law violations

On 28 June 2020, the United Nations issued a statement expressing concerns over international humanitarian law respect in Rakhine and southern Chin states’ conflict of Western Myanmar. In particular, fact finding missions have proven that fighting has increased over the last year, with the active involvement of the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army, namely the insurgent group fighting for the Rakhine people self-determination. After the conflict escalated significantly in 2019, the Arakan Army has been labelled by the government as a terrorist organisation.

Because of the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Tatmadaw in all six other states on 21 December 2018, extended until 21 September 2019, security forces started to redirect their resources to Rakhine State. The latter, as most Myanmar’s border areas, has ethnically diverse population, in which the Rakhine Buddhists, who lead the Arakan Army, are predominant. The intensification of the fighting led to a problematic situation in Western Myanmar. According to the Rakhine Ethnic Congress, more than 120,000 have evacuated beginning in November 2018. More specifically, over 77,200 men, women and children are currently displaced across southern Chin and Rakhine, in which 14,500 seek refuge in Rathedaung.

In this context, civilians represent the victims of unlawful actions against international humanitarian law: not only are they forced to flee their homes and leave their personal properties behind, but they are also tortured and arbitrarily detained. Alleged violations, mostly perpetrated by the Tatmadaw, also include unlawful attacks and military use of and damage to schools and religious sites.

To conclude, the United Nations Secretary-General calls on the parties to the conflict for a global ceasefire to ensure international humanitarian law respect, sparing civilians and their infrastructures, which will in turn make possible efficient prevention and response to the current sanitary crisis.


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Author: Barbara Caltabiano; Editor: Gianmarco Italia

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