2 Save the Children staff members among 35 dead in Myanmar attack

December 29, 2021, 2:59 pm

ISTANBUL – Save the Children, a global non-government organization (NGO), on Tuesday confirmed that two of its staff members were among the 35 people killed in an attack blamed on the Myanmar military.

“It is with profound sadness that we are confirming today that two members of Save the Children’s staff were among at least 35 people, including women and children, who were killed on Friday 24th December in an attack by the Myanmar military in Kayah State, in the east of the country,” the NGO said in a statement.

“The two staff were both new fathers who were passionate about educating children. One was 32, with a 10-month-old son, and had worked at Save the Children for two years, training teachers. The other, 28, with a three-month-old daughter, joined the charity six years ago. They are not being identified for security reasons,” the statement noted.

They were on their way back to their office after working on humanitarian response nearby when they were attacked, it said, adding, “The military forced people from their cars, arrested some, killed many, and burnt the bodies.”

Citing Chief Executive of Save the Children Inger Ashing, the statement said, “This news is absolutely horrifying. Violence against innocent civilians, including aid workers, is intolerable, and this senseless attack is a breach of International Humanitarian Law.”

“We are shaken by the violence carried out against civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians, supporting millions of children in need across Myanmar,” Ashing added.

Calling on the UN Security Council to convene “as soon as possible to set out the steps they will take to hold those responsible to account,” she said, “Member states should impose an arms embargo, including a focus on limiting the airstrikes seen over recent days.”

Save the Children has been working in Myanmar since 1995, via more than 50 partners and 900 staff across the country and has now temporarily suspended its operations in Kayah, Chin, and parts of Magway and Kayin following the incident, the statement added.

On Sunday, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said, “Credible reports say at least 35 people, including at least one child, were forced from their vehicles, killed, and burned.

“I condemn this grievous incident and all attacks against civilians throughout the country, which are prohibited under international humanitarian law.”

Alarming brutality

In Washington, the US on Tuesday condemned the December 24 attacks by the Myanmar military in Kayah State.

"We are alarmed by the military regime’s brutality across much of Burma, including most recently in Kayah and Karen States," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, using an alternate for Myanmar.

"The targeting of innocent people and humanitarian actors is unacceptable, and the military’s widespread atrocities against the people of Burma underscore the urgency of holding its members accountable," the top diplomat said.

Blinken urged the international community to do more to advance that goal and prevent the recurrence of atrocities in Myanmar, including by ending the sale of arms and dual-use technology to the military.

The Myanmar military, known locally as the Tatmadaw, launched a military coup on February 1 and jailed the National League for Democracy leadership led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was earlier this month sentenced to four years in prison.

More than 1,000 people have been killed while more than 5,400 others have been arrested by junta forces, many of whom have since been released. (Anadolu)