UN chief presses Myanmar junta for aid access

The Feb 1 overthrow of an elected government triggered
months of nationwide protests and a bloody crackdown by the military, whose use
of heavy weapons and air strikes against armed resistance in the countryside
has reignited old conflicts and displaced tens of thousands of people.

“The multiple vulnerabilities of all people across
Myanmar and its regional implications require an urgent response. Access to
people in need is critically important for the United Nations and partners to
continue to deliver on the ground,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for
Antonio Guterres, said in a statement.

“Armed forces and all stakeholders must respect human
rights and fundamental freedoms. The people of Myanmar need to see concrete

Myanmar’s military government could not be reached for
comment. Its leader has said its crackdown and military offensives were to
protect the country from “terrorists”.

The junta has vowed not to bow to international pressure and
has been highly critical of the UN, accusing its envoys of bias and
interference and its top officials of relying on “distorted news”.

Haq said Myanmar special envoy Noeleen Heyzer had been
engaging all stakeholders in the Myanmar crisis and would work with the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is leading the diplomatic effort
in the country.

“This is crucial for creating an enabling environment
for inclusive dialogue,” Haq said.

“Any solution needs to derive from engaging directly
with and listening carefully to all those affected by the ongoing crisis. Their
voices must be heard and amplified.”

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