UN Security Council is holding a session on March 13 to hear reports from envoys on the worsening civil war
This handout photo from Amnesty International taken between June 27 and July 4, 2022, and released on July 20 shows a Christian church destroyed after being landmined and burned down by the Myanmar military, according to the rights group, in Daw Ngay Ku village in Hparuso township, in eastern Myanmar's Kayah state. (Photo: AFP / Amnesty International)
Thousands of villagers, including Catholics, have fled their homes as the military in Myanmar escalated attacks amid the UN Security Council's move to hear reports from special envoys on the civil war in the southeast Asian nation.
The new flare-up between the army and the rebel groups, which also includes Christians, has prompted thousands of villagers in Demoso township in predominantly Christian Kayah State, a mountainous eastern region bordering Thailand, to take shelter in relatives’ homes and in forests, according to local sources.
They said at least 3,000 people have fled their homes since March 10 when the fighting increased.
“We heard artillery shelling and gunfire and saw many fleeing villagers taking refuge in relatives’ homes,” a local resident from Loikaw, the capital city of Kayah State, who did not wish to be named, told UCA News.
Many churches and convents in Loikaw Diocese are currently serving as shelter camps for hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Fighting has continued on the border between Kayah State and southern Shan State since late February.
More than 150,000 civilians, including Catholics, have been forced to seek shelter in churches, makeshift camps, and in the jungle, according to aid groups.
As the army retaliated, at least nine churches have been hit in Loikaw Diocese, with 16 out of 38 parishes severely affected since the civil war started following the coup in 2021.
Meanwhile, for the first time in December last year, the UN Security Council through a resolution asked the military to put an end to violence and allow unhindered humanitarian assistance to uprooted persons.
The UNSC is holding a session on Myanmar on March.13 to hear reports from Noeleen Heyzer, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy on Myanmar, and Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s foreign minister and head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations office of the special envoy on Myanmar.
In February this year, the junta extended the state of emergency for an additional six months in 40 townships across a number of states and regions. More than 3,000 people have lost their lives in a brutal military crackdown and over 20,000 have been detained since the coup, according to a local monitoring group.
Human rights groups have been accusing the ruling military of extrajudicial killings, torture, and wrongful imprisonment.
Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said, “The UN special envoy and Indonesian foreign minister should make clear to Security Council members that the junta’s killings, torture, unlawful arrests, and war crimes demand more targeted action.”
“Cutting off the junta’s supply of money and weapons is a critical next step,” Charbonneau said in a statement on March 13.
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