A UN expert on Tuesday called on the Security Council and member states to “push for an emergency COVID-19 cease-fire in Myanmar amid booming infections and fatalities.”

In a statement from Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews accused the junta government, known as State Administrative Council (SAC), of “escalating its attacks against health care workers.”

Andrews stressed the “urgent need for member states to use all the tools of the UN, including passage of resolutions demanding that the SAC immediately cease all attacks, especially against health care professionals who are desperately needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to devastate Myanmar.”

Junta forces have engaged in at least 260 attacks against medical personnel and facilities, claiming the lives of at least 18 people, according to the UN.

“Over 600 health care professionals are currently eluding outstanding arrest warrants and at least 67 are being held by junta forces,” it added.

“Too many in Myanmar have needlessly perished and too many more will die without action by the United Nations,” Andrews warned. “The UN must act immediately to halt the military junta’s attacks, harassment, and detentions in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis.”

Myanmar has reported 274,155 coronavirus cases, including 7,507 deaths, since the outbreak. The virus situation in the country is worsening with demand for oxygen amid rising cases.

“Member states of the United Nations cannot afford to be complacent while the junta ruthlessly attacks medical personnel as COVID-19 spreads unchecked. They must act to end this violence so that doctors and nurses can provide life-saving care and international organizations can help deliver vaccinations and related medical care,” Andrews said.

934 killed since military coup

Myanmar military, locally known as Tatmadaw, launched a coup on Feb. 1 this year, detaining officials of then-ruling party of National League for Democracy. It triggered countrywide demonstrations which lead to killing of 934 people by the junta forces, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – a rights group that focuses on political issues in Southeast Asia.

Nearly 5,370 others are currently in prisons.

“Member states with influence on Myanmar’s State Administrative Council must follow passage of a UN resolution by urging an immediate cessation of attacks,” the UN special rapporteur added.

The UN statement said close to 255 people have been sentenced for “trumped up crimes,” with 26 of them – two of whom are minors – sentenced to death.

“There are 570,320 internally displaced persons currently living in Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Shan, Kayin, Mon, and Bago states,” the statement said.

Last February, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding a cease-fire in all states of Myanmar experiencing conflict.

“The best outcome would be for the junta to stand down so that a legitimate civilian government can lead a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis,” Andrews said.

“But in the immediate term, the junta’s relentless attacks and detentions must end. For this to be possible, the people of Myanmar need the UN and its Member States to step up with strong, principled action,” he added.

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