“This crisis could push people beyond international borders in search of security, as seen in other parts of the country,” the UN said in Myanmar in a statement.
He urged all parties to “urgently take the necessary measures and precautions to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure”.
Myanmar’s foreign minister defended the junta’s plan to restore democracy, state media reported on Tuesday after a meeting in which his counterparts from ASEAN member states (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ) pressured the junta to honor a consensus agreement to stop the violence and initiate dialogue with its opponents.
State media quoted junta envoy, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, as saying at the meeting that the military had made progress on its five-step road map, unveiled after the coup.
That plan bears little resemblance to the ASEAN project and focuses on investigating alleged fraud in the November elections, handling the coronavirus outbreak in Myanmar, and organizing another election, after which the junta has promised to relinquish power.
China pushes the ASEAN plan
“The minister learned from the meeting that the only way to ensure a disciplined and genuine democratic system was through the future five-point program that was declared in February,” reported the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
The military defended its takeover by saying the old electoral commission ignored its allegations of fraud by Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party.
Wunna Maung Lwin met separately on Tuesday with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and told him that Myanmar is “committed to maintaining national stability and social tranquility,” according to a statement from China.
He said Myanmar “appreciates China’s support for the peace and reconciliation process,” he said.
Wang said the ASEAN plan should be implemented, avoid violence, restore stability and restart the democratic process, the statement added.
An opposition-appointed “shadow government” was angered by a Chinese embassy statement referring to junta chief Min Aung Hlaing as the “leader” of Myanmar.
The United Nations, Western countries and China all support ASEAN’s effort to mediate in the crisis, which was triggered by the military’s decision to end a decade of democracy and international integration efforts it had initiated.
But in regaining control, it was unable to stop the protests that flared up and down Myanmar. A human rights group says government forces killed at least 849 protesters, although the military disputes that figure.
Need for shelter and food
The United Nations said on Monday that those who fled Kayah were in urgent need of shelter, food, water and health care, and urged security forces to let humanitarian workers and supplies through.
Kayah, also called Karenni and bordering Thailand, is one of several regions where Volunteer People’s Defense Forces attacked well-equipped military personnel, who responded with heavy weapons and air strikes, triggering an exodus to nearby forests.
Thailand, which fears a wave of refugees, has expressed its concern over the fighting and urged the junta to take the steps agreed with ASEAN.
Images taken Monday and obtained by Reuters showed a plume of smoke over the Kayah town of Mobye, from which anti-junta militias were forced to flee after the army used heavy weapons, a fighter told Reuters.
Reuters cannot independently verify the accounts. State television did not mention the conflict in Kayah on its nightly news and a junta spokesperson did not respond to several calls seeking comment.
Fights have also occurred in recent weeks in Demoso, Hpruso and in the state capital Loikaw, where a resident described a climate of fear, with troops looting shops and questioning the local population.
“People are afraid to go out,” said the 25-year-old woman, who asked not to be identified for security reasons.
“If people go out, the soldiers stop them, interrogate them and sometimes shoot them.”