Coup, COVID fuelling 'perfect storm' in Myanmar: UN expert

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Representative image
Representative image

Geneva [Switzerland], July 16 (ANI): The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar has called for emergency international engagement to deal with a "perfect storm" of factors that are fuelling the coronavirus led crisis in the country.

In a statement, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews on Wednesday said "emergency" assistance for Myanmar was desperately needed to save lives.

"An explosion of COVID cases, including the Delta variant, the collapse of Myanmar's health care system, and the deep mistrust of the people of Myanmar of anything connected to the military junta, are a perfect storm of factors that could cause a significant loss of life in Myanmar without emergency assistance by the international community," Tom Andrews said.

"The highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being and that right is being denied to most within Myanmar. The international community must act."

The Special Rapporteur reiterated his call made at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 7 July for an "Emergency Coalition for the People of Myanmar" to, among other things, provide emergency humanitarian aid to the country.

"The junta lacks the resources, the capabilities, and the legitimacy to bring this crisis under control," he said.

The UN expert highlighted the acute need for greater amounts of life saving aid to treat COVID. "There is a major lack of capacity including oxygen support to treat those suffering from the virus," he said. "People are dying because of a shortage of medical resources and trust."

The Special Rapporteur expressed particular concern for vulnerable populations, including those held in Myanmar's overcrowded prisons. "Myanmar's prison population, including the thousands of political prisoners who have been arbitrarily detained since the coup, are in grave danger. Prisoners, particularly those with underlying conditions could see their detention become a death sentence," he warned.

"Those with influence on junta leaders must immediately seek to secure their cooperation. The UN and others in the international community are positioned to provide immediate assistance to confront this rapidly deteriorating crisis."

Nearly 6,000 people have been arbitrarily detained in Myanmar since the military overthrew the elected Government and seized power on 1 February. In addition, approximately 900 people, including children, have been killed and countless more wounded. (ANI)

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