And moving on to Myanmar, where the UN team there said that women across the country are once again demonstrating their leadership and agency following more than one month of political instability and violence.
The team there says that, across Myanmar, they see women — young and old — leading the call for peace, justice and democracy. They do so with courage, braving bullets and beatings, death and detention, challenging patriarchy and social norms in the process.
Our colleagues on the ground in Myanmar reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for Myanmar’s military and police to ensure that the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected and that demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals. It also echoed the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation of the violent crackdown and the use of lethal force.
They are deeply concerned over the reported occupation by security forces of a number of public hospitals in Myanmar, calling this completely unacceptable. The team says that hospitals are, and must remain, places of sanctuary and unequivocal neutrality — to ensure that patients undergoing medical care are safe. This is particularly essential during a global pandemic.
And on that, I just want add that the Secretary-General himself, as you have been asking me, is following the developments in Myanmar very closely, notably in the Sanchaung district of Yangon, where hundreds of peaceful protestors have been barricaded inside residential apartment complexes for hours. He calls for maximum restraint and urges for the safe release of all without violence or arrests.
Many of those trapped are women, who were peacefully marching in commemoration of International Women’s Day.
We again call for respect of the rights to freedom of assembly and expression of the people of Myanmar as they demonstrate peacefully and express their hopes and desires for the future of their country.
Last one on Myanmar: Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that the situation in the country remains dire and that aid operations have been disrupted by the coup. More than 1 million people — identified at the beginning of the year as needing assistance, including more than 350,000 internally displaced people — still need help.
Our humanitarian partners across the country are making all efforts to resume life-saving activities but the operating environment remains difficult.
There are continued disruptions to communication, transportation and supply chains, as well as shortages of cash for operations due to limitations. Banking services and market prices in some areas are rising as a result.
Our humanitarian colleagues warn that COVID-19 testing capacities and vaccination planning have also been severely impacted.