Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN warns of mass Myanmar starvation risk

UN warns of mass Myanmar starvation risk

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralysed since the February putsch and a brutal military crackdown on dissent. AFP

UN warns of mass Myanmar starvation risk

The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has warned of “mass deaths” from starvation and disease in the wake of fighting between rebel groups and junta forces in the east of the coup-stricken country.

Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralysed since the February putsch and a brutal military crackdown on dissent that has killed over 800, according to a local monitoring group.

Fighting has flared in several communities – especially in townships that have seen a high death toll at the hands of police – and some locals have formed “defence forces”.

Clashes have escalated in Kayah state near the Thai border in recent weeks.

Locals have accused the military of firing artillery shells that have landed near villages and the UN estimates around 100,000 people have been displaced.

“The junta’s brutal, indiscriminate attacks are threatening the lives of many thousands of men, women and children in Kayah state”, Tom Andrews said in a statement posted on Twitter on June 8.

“Let me be blunt. Mass deaths from starvation, disease, and exposure, on a scale we have not yet seen … could occur in Kayah state absent immediate action.”

AFP images from Kayah state have shown villagers manufacturing guns in makeshift factories as local defence groups go up against Myanmar’s battle-hardened military.

Diplomatic efforts to halt the bloodshed have been led by ASEAN – of which Myanmar is a member – but the bloc is riven with infighting and has managed to put little pressure on the junta.

An emergency summit in April produced a “five-point consensus” statement that called for an immediate halt to violence and a visit to Myanmar by a special envoy.

But a special envoy has yet to be appointed, and violence has continued across the country.

China – which enjoys exceptional leverage over Myanmar – has also been unwilling to condemn the junta and has refused to label its power-grab a coup.

Its foreign minister Wang Yi on June 8 said Beijing’s policy towards its neighbour “is not affected by changes to Myanmar’s domestic and external situation”.

“China has supported, is supporting and will support Myanmar in choosing a development path that suits its own circumstances,” Wang said at a meeting with junta-appointed foreign minister U Wunna Maung Lwin in Chongqing.


  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • School reopening can’t wait

    With the Covid-19 pandemic now well into its second year, safely reopening schools has become an urgent priority. School attendance is critical for children’s education and lifetime prospects. The long-term costs of closures – both for individual children and society – are simply too large to

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of