A protester with his face painted stands near a burning makeshift barricade during a protest against the military coup, in…
A protester with his face painted stands near a burning makeshift barricade during a protest against the military coup, in Yangon, March 30, 2021.

The U.N. Special Envoy for Myanmar warned Wednesday that "a bloodbath is imminent" and there is an increasing "possibility of civil war" in the country if civilian rule is not restored. 

"I appeal to this council to consider all available tools to take collective action and do what is right, what the people of Myanmar deserve, and prevent a multidimensional catastrophe in the heart of Asia," Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener told a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, according to a copy of her remarks obtained by VOA. 

FILE - U.N. Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener arrives at Sittwe airport after visiting Maung Daw Township at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border area in Rakhine state, Oct. 15, 2018.

She said she fears the conflict will become bloodier as the commander in chief of the military, General Min Aung Hlaing, "seems determined to solidify his unlawful grip on power by force." 

She cited the intensification of fighting in Kayin and Kachin states, and warnings of retaliation from three of the country's armed ethnic rebel groups if attacks on protesters do not stop, as fueling her fears of civil war. 

"Mediation requires dialogue, but Myanmar's military has shut its doors to most of the world," Schraner Burgener said. "It appears the military would only engage when it feels they are able to contain the situation through repression and terror." 

Myanmar has been mired in chaos and violence since the military's overthrow of the civilian government on February 1, and the detentions of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD) Party. The military has claimed widespread fraud occurred in last November's election, which the NLD won in a landslide.    

Security forces have cracked down on demonstrators, using live ammunition and rubber bullets, shooting indiscriminately into the crowds. On Saturday, Armed Forces Day, more than 100 protesters were killed, including women and children. 

Anti-coup protesters run to avoid military forces during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, March 31, 2021.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nongovernmental organization, estimates that 536 people have been killed by the junta since the peaceful protests began. More than 2,700 have been arrested, charged or sentenced. 

"This Council must consider potentially significant action that can reverse the course of events in Myanmar," Schraner Burgener said. 

The U.N. Security Council has issued two statements condemning the violence, expressed support for the democratic process and emphasized the need for dialogue, but it has not imposed sanctions or other measures on the military. 

The special envoy's request to the junta for her to visit Myanmar has been rebuffed, so she is planning instead to visit the region and hold consultations with members of regional bloc ASEAN. She said Wednesday that she hopes to go as soon as this week. 

"A robust international response requires a unified regional position, especially with neighboring countries leveraging their influence towards stability in Myanmar," she said.