UN warns of ‘intensified fighting’ in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

YANGON (AFP) – The United Nations (UN) called for “urgent measures to spare civilians” in Myanmar’s conflict-wracked northwest yesterday, saying fighting has intensified between the army and insurgents.

The military has been battling the Arakan Army (AA) – a rebel group seeking more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine – in Myanmar’s Rakhine and Chin states since January last year.

Scores of civilians have been killed in the area and tens of thousands displaced. The two sides have traded allegations of abuse.

Under lockdown and with an internet blackout across much of the conflict zone, reporting from the area is difficult to verify.

The UN expressed concern yesterday over “reports of intensified fighting” in northwest Rakhine state’s Rathe-daung township.

The area is home to more than 10,000 civilians, and local sources report they are either fleeing or are trapped by the ongoing conflict, the UN said.

Urging both parties to “take urgent measures to spare civilians”, the UN also called for them to respect international humanitarian law as well as reiterating the need for a ceasefire with the ongoing global pandemic.