Myanmar: UN expert urges immediate aid to areas affected by military operations

26 February 2007
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro

Expressing concern about the humanitarian and human rights implications of ongoing military operations in Myanmar’s southeastern Kayin State, a United Nations human rights expert has urged the country to grant aid groups immediate access to affected civilians.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said in a statement last Friday that “humanitarian assistance should not be made hostage of politics,” but rather it “must only be guided by the best interests of the affected communities.”

Mr. Pinheiro made his recommendations after hearing testimonies of villagers who had fled fighting in Toungoo District and Eastern Bago Division. These people, who had already been forced to leave their homes on several occasions, confirmed allegations the Special Rapporteur had heard last year of human rights violations and lack of humanitarian assistance in these areas.

He called on the Government to immediately grant access to and guarantee the safety and freedom of movement to the UN, as well as other aid workers, as these groups seek to assist those in need.

“It would be a terrible mistake to wait for the political normalization of Myanmar to help and to empower the affected communities and their representatives,” the Special Rapporteur said.

 

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