Press Statement: COVID-19 Humanitarian Ceasefire Demand

For Immediate Release

Humanitarian Disaster in the Making: CHRO Calls for Unconditional Ceasefire and Urgent Humanitarian Intervention in Chin and Rakhine States

(Yangon/Hakha – 26th March 2020):

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) strongly reiterates the urgent need for instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) in order to align with the Civilian Government’s response to the impending crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic is now officially affecting Myanmar. The Government of Myanmar has advised office closures, social distancing and in some circumstances self-isolation. Key gatherings and national events have been cancelled under government orders. In designing responses to COVID-19, states must ensure that the needs of specific groups are fully addressed under rights to health obligations. While the response to the pandemic is of national concern, there will be disproportionate risks and impacts on conflict-affected communities in Chin and Rakhine State in what is a humanitarian disaster in the making.

Internally Displaced People (IDP) will face additional challenges in the ability to protect themselves from COVID-19 and if infected, accessing treatment. In preventing the spread of the virus, social-distancing or self-isolation will be impossible for IDP communities. The lack of adequate sanitation, access to healthcare and access to information regarding government planning or critical information and updates about the pandemic puts the conflict-affected in Chin and Rakhine State at severe risk from the virus:

“The gravity and urgency of the situation now demand an immediate and unconditional ceasefire from both sides to allow critical humanitarian intervention to prevent a disaster. In light of the worsening public health concerns posed by the Covid-19 global pandemic, it is especially inhumane to continue to trap the already vulnerable civilian populations in a brutal conflict. We join the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in calling for an urgent global ceasefire, particularly in Chin and Rakhine States,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of CHRO.

The CHRO therefore strongly urges the following actions in order to prevent a public-health crisis amongst the conflict-affected in Chin and Rakhine State by:

  • Declaring and implementing an unconditional ceasefire with immediate effect;
  • Allowing unhindered access to IDP and all conflict-affected communities;
  • Facilitate the mobilization and coordination of swift emergency response measures with national and international organizations operating in the area, and;
  • Re-installing internet and telecommunications so IDP populations may receive updates on national circumstances and response in relation to government advice and planning.

  • For media inquiries please contact:
    Salai Lian, +95 (0) 9450 687 296 (English/Burmese)

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