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Rights group warns of humanitarian crisis

Acute food shortages and attacks on civilians continue in Myanmar, says CSW

  • Mike MacLachlan, London
  • United Kingdom
  • May 13, 2011
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The rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) warned yesterday of a growing humanitarian crisis in eastern Myanmar.

Karen state faces an acute food shortage and attacks on civilians in Shan state are continuing, the London-based group warned.

It urged the UN special adviser Vijay Nambiar, who is visiting the country, to address the crisis directly in his talks with the regime.

Nambiar met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday and said afterwards his visit was “encouraging” but its outcome “depends on the government’s reaction."

Some human rights activists have criticized the official visit as part of the military-run government’s new “charm offensive.”

“The UN and Nambiar should not allow his visit to be misused by the government to shore up its credibility on human rights in the absence of meaningful progress,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director of the US-based Human Rights Watch.

In its statement, CSW called on the international community to provide aid to those affected by the food crisis and to increase funding for refugee camps on the Thai border.

It added that, according to the Karen Human Rights Group, nearly 9.000 villagers in 118 villages in northern Karen state are facing acute food shortages.

The effects of a recent drought have been worsened by army attacks on villages, CSW said, with tens of thousands of civilians in hiding and in urgent need of assistance.

In Shan state, it added, an army offensive against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) has forced more than 3,000 people to flee from their homes. Many are in hiding in the jungle.

The regime’s offensive has broken a ceasefire with the SSA-N which has lasted 22 years, it said.

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