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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 8 December 2021 - Myanmar, Ethiopia

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Myanmar

A note on Myanmar: I can tell you that we are deeply concerned by the reports of the horrific killing of 11 people in Salingyi Township in north-west Sagaing region, who were reportedly shot and burnt by the military on Tuesday morning in apparent retaliation for recent militia attacks. Credible reports indicate that five children were among those people killed.

We strongly condemn such violence and remind Myanmar’s military authorities of their obligations under international law to ensure the safety and protection of civilians. Those individuals responsible for this heinous act must be held to account.

The UN has repeatedly condemned in the strongest possible terms the violence by Myanmar’s security forces and armed forces. Such violence is completely unacceptable and [demands] a unified and resolute international response.

As of 8 December, security forces have killed more than 1,300 unarmed individuals, including more than 75 children, through their use of lethal force or while in their custody since the military takeover on 1 February.

Ethiopia

Just continuing with bad news — unfortunately, in Ethiopia, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that large quantities of humanitarian food supplies, including nutritional items for malnourished children, have been stolen and looted in the town of Kombolcha in the Amhara region.

The small-scale theft of food escalated into mass looting of warehouses across Kombolcha in recent days, reportedly by elements of the Tigrayan forces and some members of the local population.

The exact amount of food taken is still being determined, but what is clear is that these incidents will further worsen malnutrition and prolong food insecurity in northern Ethiopia. An estimated 9.4 million people across Tigray, Amhara and Afar are now in critical need of food assistance.

The World Food Programme (WFP) teams on the ground were not able to prevent the looting in the face of extreme intimidation, including staff being held at gunpoint. As a result, WFP has suspended food distributions in the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha.

Such harassment of humanitarian staff by armed forces is unacceptable and undermines the ability of the United Nations and all of our humanitarian partners to deliver assistance when it is most needed, particularly as aid workers face growing access challenges.

Also, yesterday and today, three WFP trucks used for humanitarian operations in Amhara have been commandeered by military personnel and used for their own purposes.

We strongly condemn all of these incidents and reiterate our calls to all parties to the conflict to respect and protect humanitarian relief personnel and objects, in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, misappropriate or loot relief supplies, installations, materials, units or vehicles.