The UN Security Council will host “silenced voices” from Myanmar, where the military launched a coup earlier this year and the country is now grappling with an intense coronavirus wave.
Barbara Woodward, the UK’s permanent UN representative, said in a video statement on Twitter: “This week, (UN) Security Council members will hear directly from voices the military has tried to silence on how to address the crisis and including making vaccines available to all.”
Half of Myanmar’s population could be infected with COVID-19 in the next two weeks, she feared, adding: “Despite the heroic efforts of the medical staff there, the health care system is near to collapse. The economy, jobs, businesses, are failing,” said Woodward.
Her statement echoes similar concerns expressed by a UN expert who 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.”
UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews accused the sitting 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.
Myanmar has so far reported 284,099 coronavirus cases, including 8,210 deaths since the outbreak began in the Southeast Asian country last year. The virus situation there is worsening as medical oxygen supplies dwindle amid the case surge.
Myanmar’s military, locally known as the Tatmadaw, launched a coup on Feb. 1 this year, detaining officials of the then-ruling National League for Democracy party.
It triggered countrywide demonstrations which led to the killing of 936 people by junta forces, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners — a rights group that focuses on political issues in Southeast Asia.
Nearly 5,400 others are currently in prisons.
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