More than 1 million people have been internally displaced in Myanmar, the United Nations said, with the majority due to ongoing conflict and insecurity since the February 2021 military takeover. File Photo by EPA-EFE
June 1 (UPI) -- The number of internally displaced people in Myanmar has topped 1 million for the first time, according to a new report by the United Nations, with almost 700,000 being forced to relocate due to conflict and insecurity since the military seized power in a February 2021 coup.
The latest situation report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, released Tuesday, said that in recent months "various parts of Myanmar have witnessed an escalation in fighting, further entrenching the already fragile humanitarian situation."
"The impact on civilians is worsening daily with frequent indiscriminate attacks and incidents involving explosive hazards, including landmines and explosive remnants of war," the report said.
Some 694,000 people have been internally displaced since the February 2021 coup, according to the report, adding to the 346,000 people who had already been displaced by long-running conflicts between ethnic armed groups and the military.
More than 40,000 refugees have crossed borders into neighboring countries and almost 13,000 civilian properties have been destroyed, making it more difficult for internally displaced people, or IDPs, to eventually return home, the report added.
Soaring prices on essential commodities such as food and fuel are adding to the crisis, the U.N. warned, with fuel prices in April nearly two and a half times higher than in February 2021. Monsoon season is also underway, with strong storms and rain hitting Rakhine, Kachin, southern Shan and Kayin since April, causing damage to shelters.
On Feb. 1, 2021, Myanmar's military, known as the Tatmadaw, overthrew the civilian government and detained officials including de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
The Tatmadaw claimed the results of a landslide electoral victory by Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy were fraudulent -- charges refuted by the country's election committee, as well as independent observers from several monitoring bodies.
Civil disobedience and nationwide protests immediately followed, which the junta brutally suppressed and which have hardened into an internal conflict that some describe as a full-fledged civil war.
According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the junta has arrested almost 14,000 civilians and killed 1,876 since the coup.
A March report by the U.N.'s human rights body found that the military's abuses in Myanmar may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Rights group Amnesty International released its own new report on Tuesday, focusing on military assaults in the eastern states of Kayin and Kayah that have displaced some 150,000 people and left entire villages emptied and burned.
"The world's attention may have moved away from Myanmar since last year's coup, but civilians continue to pay a high price," Rawya Rageh, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International, said. "The military's ongoing assault on civilians in eastern Myanmar has been widespread and systematic, likely amounting to crimes against humanity."