THE UNITED NATIONS - The UN Secretary-General António Guterres is deeply concerned about escalating violence in Myanmar, he said in a statement released on Thursday.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the Secretary-General “strongly condemns” recent attacks by the Myanmar military in Rakhine State and Sagaing Region that have reportedly claimed the lives of many civilians.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the widening regional ramifications of the deteriorating situation in Myanmar and reiterates his appeal for a unified approach,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Conflict in Myanmar

Myanmar’s Rakhine State has seen a spike in violence between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army that has left tens of thousands homeless.

Many of the attacks reportedly targeted the minority Muslim Rohingya community, who have been based in Rakhine for generations but denied full citizenship. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee into Bangladesh from there in 2017 following persecution by government forces.

During the attacks, some members of this community experienced beheadings and burning of their homes. Recent data from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) revealed that about 226,000 people from this community have been uprooted due to the violence who are in need of resettlement.

Even further, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had previously reported cases of “shooting at unarmed fleeing villagers” and disappearances in Myanmar.

The country is now recognised as a hunger hotspot where “acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further in coming months.”

Being held accountable

Mr. Dujarric, said that recent incidents “targeting ethnic Rakhine in Western Myanmar, and the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya, underlines the need for protection of all communities.”

He said that aerial bombings and human rights violations are constantly reported in many parts of Myanmar and “those responsible must be held to account.”

Further, he said the Secretary-General “calls on all parties to the conflict to exercise maximum restraint, prioritise protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law and prevent further incitement of communal tension and violence.”

Mr. Dujarric said that the Secretary-General is urging member states and stakeholders to support his newly appointed Special Envoy, Julie Bishop as she works on fostering sustainable peace through close cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and neighbouring countries.