A human rights group says the Myanmar government may have committed a war crime by allegedly blocking deliveries of life-saving aid supplies to civilians in war-torn northern Myanmar.
“The government of Myanmar’s willful deprivation of humanitarian aid to displaced civilians in Kachin State violates domestic and international law, and could amount to a war crime,” said David Baulk of the advocacy group Fortify Rights.
The group released a report Thursday on aid restrictions, days after U.N. investigators said Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya in the country’s western Rakhine State with “genocidal intent.”
Fortify Rights said its research shows only five-percent of aid workers who submitted applications to travel in government-controlled areas in the north were granted in a one year period ending in June.
Balk said the U.N. Security Council should ask the International Criminal Court to investigate developments in Myanmar. The group also called on Myanmar authorities to allow aid groups to deliver essential aid.
Government spokesman Zaw Htay rejected the U.N.’s findings earlier this week. He did not immediately respond to Fortify Rights’ report.
The aid crisis worsened as fighting re-ignited in April between government troops and a rebel group in the northern Kachin State, where thousands of civilians have been killed and over 100,000 displaced since 2011.
The new offensive has forced thousands more to flee their homes. It has also triggered new concerns that Myanmar’s military is creating a humanitarian crisis similar to the one created by violence against Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine.
The group’s report said civilians affected by the the escalation in violence have experienced “increased food insecurity, avoidable health-related deaths, poor living conditions, and protections concerns.”