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Myanmar: UN humanitarian chief calls for probe into ‘grievous’ attack on civilians

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Martin Griffiths briefing the UN Security Council (file)

Authorities in Myanmar must investigate a recent deadly attack against civilians in Kayah state, the UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr. Griffiths said he was “horrified” by reports that at least 35 people, including at least one child, were killed in the attack, which occurred on Friday.  They reportedly were forced from their vehicles, killed and burned.

Two humanitarian workers from the aid organization Save the Children remain missing, he added, having been caught up in the violence. Their private vehicle was attacked and burned. 

“I condemn this grievous incident and all attacks against civilians throughout the country, which are prohibited under international humanitarian law,” said Mr. Griffiths.

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He urged the government to immediately launch “a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident so that perpetrators can be swiftly brought to justice.”

Protect civilians from harm

Mr. Griffiths also called on the Myanmar army, as well as armed groups, to take all measures to protect civilians from harm.   

“Millions of people in Myanmar remain in dire need of humanitarian support,” he said, adding that the UN and its humanitarian partners remain committed to providing help throughout the country.

The UN continues to monitor developments in Myanmar in the wake of the military coup in February.

Earlier this month, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said it was appalled by the alarming escalation of grave human rights abuses.

Spokesperson Rupert Colville said serious violations are “reported daily of the rights to life, liberty and security of person, the prohibition against torture, the right to a fair trial, and freedom of expression.” 

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