Human Rights

HRW accuses Myanmar junta of blocking aid

Published : December 14, 2021 15:57 IST

Human Rights Watch said more pressure needs to be placed on Myanmar's military. Photo: Uncredited/AP Photot/picture alliance

The number of people in need is expected to jump into the millions amid a violent crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

Global rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) on December 13 called on the United Nations and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to pressure Myanmar's military junta into allowing the passage of humanitarian aid. HRW director Kenneth Roth on Twitter accused the military of "blocking desperately needed aid from reaching millions of displaced people and others at risk." Roth went on to say the junta were "blocking access roads and aid convoys, destroying supplies and attacking aid workers.”

Why is the junta blocking aid?

The New York based NGO said that Myanmar's military leadership were purposefully frustrating the aid process as a form of retribution over international criticism of its rule. In a report released on Monday, HRW said: "The generals are callously denying life saving assistance to people affected by conflict since the military takeover, seemingly as a form of punishment."

"Myanmar's junta has worsened a self-created humanitarian catastrophe by displacing hundreds of thousands of people and then blocking the critical support they need to survive," said HRW Asia Researcher Shayna Bauchner. Security forces have also reportedly imposed travel restrictions on humanitarian workers and have blocked roads and convoys laden with aid. Communications have also reportedly been cut. HRW said that the military coup in February triggered a collapse of infrastructure and a currency crisis. Supply chains have been severely affected, leading to shortages in food and medicine.

Myanmar's post-coup humanitarian 'emergency'

HRW that the military's violent crackdown on protests following the coup has displaced more than 284,000 people. The U.N. estimated the number of people in need of aid will rise from 1 million to 14,4 million by 2022. Included in that number is 5 million children. HRW said to date the international response to the humanitarian situation in Myanmar has been inadequate. It is understood that the U.N. and aid agencies had only received 18 per cent of the $109-million (€ 96 million) that had been requested to help deal with what it calls the "post-coup humanitarian emergency."

On December 10, the U.S., Britain and Canada slapped sanctions on Myanmar. The measures came days after Aung San Suu Kyi, the deposed state counsellor, was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of incitement and breaking COVID-19 rules. Additional accusations against the Nobel Peace Prize winner could lead to her imprisonment for up to 100 years.

This report was written with material from DPA.

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