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Civilians fleeing from violence in Myanmar Civilians fleeing from violence in Myanmar 

Myanmar: UN Special Envoy calls for New Year ceasefire

As violence continues to escalate in Myanmar, the UN’s Special Envoy for Myanmar has called for all parties to observe a New Year’s ceasefire throughout the country.

By Christopher Wells

The UN’s Special Envoy on Myanmar says she is “deeply concerned by the continued escalation of violence in Kayin State and other parts of Myanmar,” which has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, including large numbers of women and children.

Calls for a peaceful solution

In a statement released on Monday, Noeleen Heyzer calls on all parties in the country “to exercise the utmost restraint a seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people and their livelihood.”

Heyzer urged the various parties to honour their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, to ensure free movement of refugees and displaced persons so that they can reach safety, and to allow humanitarian assistance to be provided to those in need. “To this end,” the statement reads, “she appeals for a New Year’s ceasefire throughout Myanmar.”

Civilians massacred

On Tuesday, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, called on Myanmar authorities to investigate the reported killing of at least 35 civilians that opposition activists blamed on government soldiers.

Griffiths said there were credible reports that civilians, including at least one child, were forced from vehicles, killed, and burned, in an attack in Kayah state on Friday.

“I am horrified by reports of an attack against civilians,” said Griffiths in a statement, adding, “I condemn this grievous incident and all attacks against civilians throughout the country, which are prohibited under international humanitarian law.”

All of Myanmar a war zone

Earlier this week, Burmese Cardinal Charles Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon, called on the military to stop “bombing, shelling, and killing,” while also calling on the democracy movement and armed ethnic groups “to strive earnestly for peace.”

He denounced the massacre in Kayah State as “a heartbreaking and horrific atrocity,” which he condemned unreservedly.

“The whole of our beloved Myanmar is now a war zone,” he lamented, and he urged “all those holding guns to put down their weapons.”

28 December 2021, 16:06