Myanmar: ASEAN Concerned About Escalation of Hostilities

Tens of thousands of people are on the brink of a humanitarian disaster

The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have issued a joint statement saying they are “deeply concerned” about the recent escalation of armed conflict in Myanmar. They called on all parties involved to “avoid further escalation and guarantee the protection of civilians.”

ASEAN is a regional organization of 10 countries that, in addition to Myanmar, includes Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The statement was preceded by recent, particularly fierce fighting between Myanmar Interim Military Government forces and insurgents in Myawaddy district of Kayin State, along the border with Thailand, as well as in Rakhine State. ASEAN foreign ministers asked for “an immediate cessation of violence, maximum moderation in the conflict, and respect for international humanitarian law.” In particular, the document said, all necessary measures should be taken immediately to “ease tensions and guarantee the protection and safety of all civilians, including foreign nationals and nationals of ASEAN states.”

Military action has brought tens of thousands of people to the brink of humanitarian disaster. For this reason, the ASEAN foreign ministers called for adequate conditions aimed at ensuring the “timely and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance” provided by the ASEAN Humanitarian Coordination Centre and the so-called Thailand Cross-Border Humanitarian Initiative. To prevent the conflict from escalating, the foreign ministers asked for “multiplied efforts to resume an inclusive national dialogue” that should lead to “a lasting and comprehensive political solution. In this context, ASEAN member countries stand ready to help Myanmar on its journey in this direction.”