The United Nations’ envoy on Myanmar implored the Security Council on Wednesday to take action amid an escalating crisis in the Southeast Asian nation, warning of the risk of civil war and an imminent “bloodbath” amid a violent crackdown on anti-coup protests that has left hundreds dead.
Christine Schraner Burgener told a closed session of the 15-member Council that the generals who seized power on February 1 were not capable of managing the country, and warned the situation on the ground would only worsen, according to comments shared with reporters.
“Consider all available tools to take collective action and do what is right, what the people of Myanmar deserve and prevent a multi-dimensional catastrophe in the heart of Asia,” she said.
The council must consider “potentially significant action” to reverse the course of events as “a bloodbath is imminent,” Schraner Burgener stressed.
At least 536 civilians have been killed in protests since the military arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power on February 1, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an advocacy group that is tracking detentions and deaths. Some 141 were killed on Saturday, the bloodiest day of the unrest so far.
The military has also stepped up its activities in ethnic minority areas along the country’s borders where it has been fighting armed groups for decades. On Saturday, it carried out its first air raids on eastern Karen state for 20 years, sending thousands fleeing across the border to Thailand.
The United Kingdom requested the Security Council meeting in response to the escalating violence.
“These violent actions by the military are completely unacceptable and require a strong message from the international community,” the UK’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, said in a virtual press briefing after the council session.
The Security Council “should play its part” in an international response, she added.