UN rights office calls for restraint as violence escalate in northern Myanmar

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday expressed deep concern about the escalation in attacks by military forces and armed groups in Kachin and northern Shan States in Myanmar.

“We urge all sides to exercise restraint and to fully respect human rights and international humanitarian law, ensuring the protection of civilians at all times. The protracted conflict in Kachin and northern Shan States has already caused immense suffering, and we urge all sides to work to resolve the situation through a genuine, meaningful dialogue,” Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.

Since early April, about 7,400 people have been internally displaced in Kachin State, adding to the 100,000 already displaced. About 2,000 of these civilians spent about four weeks trapped in the jungle after fleeing the fighting in the conflict zone of Awng Lat. This weekend, they were reportedly relocated to other towns in Kachin State. However, many more remain trapped in areas of active fighting, with extremely difficult escape routes through mountains and forests, and in need of humanitarian support.

Last Saturday, at least 14 civilians were reportedly killed and at least 20 others injured in attacks by armed groups in Shan State. More than 600 people have been displaced in Namtu Township in northern Shan.

We call on the Government to ensure that those who have been displaced or remain in conflict-affected areas have access to humanitarian aid, the Spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, UN human rights expert Yanghee Lee had expressed grave concerns over the sharp escalation in hostilities in Kachin State.

Photo credit: UNHCR/Paul Vrieze

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