KUALA LUMPUR: ASEAN foreign ministers have called on all parties for an immediate cessation of violence and to exercise utmost restraint in the border areas of Myanmar.

In a statement, the foreign ministers voiced their concerns over the recent escalation of conflicts including in the area of Myawaddy in Kayin State, along the border area between Myanmar and Thailand and in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, which have caused displacement of civilians.

“To avoid further humanitarian impacts of such escalation of all forms of conflicts, we urge all parties for an immediate cessation of violence and to exercise utmost restraint, to uphold international humanitarian law, and to take all the necessary measures to defuse tensions and to ensure the protection and safety of all civilians,” they said.

According to media reports, clashes erupted in Myawaddy between Myanmar’s military and anti-junta forces led by the Karen National Union (KNU) last week causing people to flee to Thailand.

The ASEAN foreign ministers also called on all parties to take urgent steps towards mitigating the impact of conflicts on the civilians, including creating a safe and conducive environment to ensure the timely and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance.

“We support the continued efforts of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre), as well as Thailand’s humanitarian cross-border initiative, which are in line with the Five-Point Consensus and coordinated with the ASEAN Chair through the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar,” they said.

The foreign ministers also called for the mobilisation of support on efforts towards humanitarian talks in addressing the humanitarian consequences in Myanmar and for an inclusive national dialogue towards a durable and comprehensive political solution in Myanmar.

“We also reaffirm that a peaceful and unified Myanmar is in the interest of ASEAN. In this regard, we reiterate our support to 2024 ASEAN Chair and its Special Envoy on Myanmar, including its continued engagements with all stakeholders in Myanmar,” they said.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the military toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government in February 2021 coup.