By David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.N. human rights expert on Myanmar called on Wednesday for the United States to further tighten sanctions against the country’s military rulers, including their main source of income, the state-owned oil and gas company.

U.N. special rapporteur Tom Andrews, a former member of the U.S. Congress, also said it was critical for Washington to maintain at least some level of humanitarian support for the junta’s victims inside and outside Myanmar.

Andrews told a hearing of the US Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission that he was “troubled” by reports that some donors, including the US, may reduce support for Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar, saying There is a joint response plan that provides food rations for Rohingya children in Bangladesh and has only been 32% funded so far this year.

Andrews praised Washington for imposing sanctions on the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and the Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank in June, but said more needed to be done.

“We must impose more sanctions… I call on the United States to join the European Union and immediately impose sanctions on the junta’s largest source of revenue, the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise,” Andrews said.

“If you can stop the money, you can limit their ability to continue these atrocities,” he said, referring to civilian deaths at the hands of the military.

Andrews also called on Washington to work with other countries to block the junta’s access to weapons.

Last month, Washington expanded its sanctions against Myanmar to include foreign companies or individuals that help the junta procure jet fuel for air strikes, estimating that the military had killed more than 3,900 civilians since seizing power in a coup in 2021.

In January, the United States imposed sanctions on the chief executive and deputy chief executive of the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, but has not taken further action against the company despite urging from human rights groups and dissidents.

Myanmar military officials have downplayed the impact of sanctions, saying their airstrikes target insurgents.

Andrews said in a May report that Myanmar’s military had imported at least $1 billion worth of weapons and other materials since the coup, and appealed to Russia and China for aiding them in the campaign to crush the opposition.

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