Statement by Ambassador Flynn at Arria Meeting on the Situation in Myanmar
Statement29 July 2021
Thank you, Chair, and many thanks to the UK for convening this timely Arria meeting. I would also like to thank our briefers for their really vivid descriptions of the increasingly complicated crisis facing Myanmar.
Resolution 2565, adopted by this Council in the same month the coup unfolded in Myanmar, was a collective recognition that those living in conflict wracked countries, were the least prepared to add the challenge of pandemic response to their heavy burdens. Today’s briefers clearly confirmed the awful truth of that for Myanmar.
During previous meetings, we have consistently expressed our concerns regarding the humanitarian and healthcare crises in Myanmar. Ireland repeats the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities to facilitate a national, regional and international response to the Covid crisis in Myanmar. The international community must act with urgency, and explore all possible avenues to ensure access to urgent healthcare, vaccine access, and vaccine education. We pay tribute to the human rights defenders, notably the many women HRDs, working tirelessly to support the population at this time.
We know that to protect all we must vaccinate all. However, in Myanmar, that protection is being denied by those who claim to lead. We are deeply concerned at reports of violence against healthcare workers, the arrest of doctors for provision of care, restrictions on access to life saving healthcare and oxygen, and chronic shortages of vital sanitary protection. Reports that non-medical decisions determine the allocation of scarce vaccines are deplorable. The Covid situation in detention facilities, overpopulated since the coup, is also deeply troubling.
The pandemic has rendered millions in Myanmar even more vulnerable, in particular women, children, ethnic minorities and internally displaced persons, many of whom have been subject to systematic attacks and human rights violations by Myanmar’s military, including sexual and gender-based violence. During this new phase of the crisis, we cannot forget the Rohingya. Work to address the root causes of instability and violence in Myanmar, including in Rakhine State, remains crucial.
The delivery of humanitarian aid is not a political act. Those delivering aid must be protected and respected. We call on all actors in Myanmar to recognise the principles underlying the delivery of humanitarian aid and adhere to them.
While thousands of lives have been lost, to violence and to Covid-19, the ability to prevent further tragedy is within our grasp. But we must collectively act, and we must act now. Safe and reliable humanitarian access, including through cross border corridors, has to be guaranteed. An immediate ceasefire, as outlined in Resolution 2565, is a prerequisite for an impactful humanitarian response.
We reiterate the call for a truly global and equitable roll out of life saving Covid vaccines. As Mike Ryan of the WHO has clearly and repeatedly reminded – “none of us are safe until all of us are safe”.
These are not new solutions to the humanitarian and healthcare crisis in Myanmar, but they are the most urgently needed. Today’s meeting has left us in no doubt as to the scale of the challenge Covid presents in Myanmar.
The international community continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar. But those with the ability to effect immediate change must do so now, prioritise the humanitarian needs of the Myanmar people and turn the tide of the pandemic.
Thank you Chair.