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Red Cross president meets Myanmar junta leader

Anti-coup protesters took to the streets in Yangon, Myanmar, on June 3, 2021. Mg_ny@n

The head of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) held talks with Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing on Thursday as the coup-stricken nation enters its fifth month of crippling unrest.

This content was published on June 4, 2021 - 10:49
Keystone-SDA/AFP/sb

Peter Maurer travelled to the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw to make the case for better aid access and prison visits as well as raising the issue of the use of force during security operations, the ICRC said.

“This visit aimed to share ICRC's concerns on the current humanitarian situation and reinforce ongoing efforts to ensure space for neutral and impartial humanitarian action,” the ICRC president said in a statementExternal link on June 3.

Maurer called for broader humanitarian access including in Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Shan and Rakhine States.

He underlined the importance of the ICRC being able to resume its humanitarian visits and activities in places of detention, which have been on hold since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The leader of the junta was “noncommittal” but did not refuse Maurer's requests, Japan's Nikkei newspaper said, citing people familiar with the meeting.

Two Southeast Asian envoys from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have also arrived for talks on ending the turmoil since the February 1 coup. They are expected to meet Min Aung Hlaing on Friday, the local Delta News Agency reported.

The United Nations, western countries and China all support ASEAN's mediating role, but some western powers have also initiated sanctions to target the junta members and their economic interests.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) government in a February 1 coup. A brutal crackdown by the junta has since killed more than 800 people, according to a local monitoring group.

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