The UN Security Council (UNSC) on December 29 condemned last week’s massacre in Myanmar of more than 30 people, including two NGO staff, that was blamed on junta troops.

The killings took place on Christmas Eve in eastern Kayah state, where pro-democracy rebels have been fighting the military, which took over the government from the democratically elected administration in February.

In a statement released on the evening of December 29, UNSC members “stressed the need to ensure accountability for this act”.

They also called “for the immediate cessation of all violence and emphasised the importance of respect for human rights and of ensuring safety of civilians”.

The statement said “at least 35 people”, including four children and two staff of Save the Children charity, were killed in the attack.

The UNSC also “stressed the need for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need, and for the full protection, safety and security of humanitarian and medical personnel”.

Anti-junta fighters say they have found more than 30 burnt bodies, including women and children, on a highway in Kayah state following the attack.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) on December 28 advised the government to assist Myanmar refugees and Thai nationals in the Mae Hong Son and Tak border areas as soon as possible.

The request comes as recent clashes between Myanmar’s armed forces and the ethnic Karen resistance movement force Myanmar nationals to flee into Thailand and put Thai citizens living in border areas at risk of losing their property and lives.

The NHRCT said it was closely monitoring the human rights and security situation. “To create stability and safety on the Thailand-Myanmar border, the government should prepare for the situation based on the international non-refoulement principle” the commission said.

“Meanwhile, the government should have a clear policy to assist refugees, such as implementing the four necessities of life, disease prevention and treatment. In this Covid-19 crisis, the government should launch measures to enable refugees to be screened for the virus and have access to treatment and vaccines.”

The NHRCT also said the government should promote local mechanisms between the government, private business and civil society to take care of the refugees.

“Related agencies should provide safety for Thai nationals living on the Thailand-Myanmar border, such as building shelters, preparing an emergency plan and creating awareness,” it explained.

It said its two commissioners, Preeda Kongpan and Sayamon Kaiyurawong, were due to go to Tak’s Mae Sot district to cooperate with provincial agencies on human rights in the area.

“The commission hopes that assisting victims in line with human rights principles during the unrest will be the first priority for every party,” it added.