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Myanmar junta still able to access weapons and money overseas, says UN expert

WASHINGTON — International efforts to isolate Myanmar's ruling junta appear to have dented its ability to purchase new military equipment from overseas, but the military is still able to access money and weapons for its war against anti-coup forces, a UN expert said in a report published on Wednesday (June 26).

Myanmar has been plunged in turmoil since the military seized power from an elected government in a 2021 coup, which sparked financial sanctions imposed on the military, banks and other associated businesses by Western countries.

More than three years on, a protest movement against the coup has evolved into a full-blown civil war, with the military accused of launching air strikes on insurgents and civilians alike as it has lost control of large swathes of territory.

A report by the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, found the value of weapons, dual-use technologies, manufacturing equipment and other materials imported by the junta amounted to US$253 million (S$342 million) in the year up to March 2024.

That was a third less than the previous year, the report said, thanks to efforts by Singapore to prevent its companies from aiding the junta.

Andrews told Reuters in an interview that the progress showed that sanctions and other international efforts can have an impact on the junta's ability to resupply, and therefore reduce the military's ability to launch attacks like air strikes that have killed civilians in their villages.

"The very means by which they are attacking these villages are dependant upon their access to weapons and materials supplied from overseas," Andrews said.

Myanmar's military denies accusations it has committed atrocities against civilians and says