Melbourne, Australia [06 Sep]: A special ASEAN envoy to Myanmar said in an interview that he has called for a four-month ceasefire by all sides in the country’s conflict to enable the delivery of the first batch of humanitarian assistance to the country expected as early as mid-September.
Following a coup in February, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached a five-point consensus at the special ASEAN summit on Myanmar on 21 April as a pathway to ending the violent conflict in Myanmar. The five-point consensus includes an immediate cessation of violence, constructive dialogue among all parties, the appointment of a special ASEAN envoy to facilitate dialogue, the provision of humanitarian assistance, and a visit by the envoy to Myanmar.
Speaking exclusively to Kyodo News online on Saturday, Erywan Yusof, Brunei’s second minister of foreign affairs, said he proposed the cease-fire until the end of this year in a videoconference with Myanmar’s military-appointed foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, last Tuesday, and that the military had accepted it.
“This is not a political cease-fire. This is a cease-fire to ensure safety, (and) security of the humanitarian workers” as they go out and distribute aid to the people safely, he said.
The Myanmar’s security forces have been using violence against peaceful anti-coup demonstrators and armed ethnic minorities. Determined to continue demonstrating against the coup, but also concerned that they face the same violence and threat from security forces, young demonstrators formed militias to defend themselves. Since then, fighting between Myanmar’s military and local militias, also known as people defense forces (PDF), has intensified in several areas of the country.
The recent armed conflicts that follow the military’s coup have displaced thousands of people internally across the country, creating a new humanitarian crisis. According to the New Humanitarian, humanitarian access for international aid groups in Myanmar is dependent on “travel authorization” overseen by the military. Access is frequently denied, and areas controlled by ethnic armed organisations are almost entirely blacklisted.