United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Ms. Renata Dessallien
Statement on Investigation Commission on Incidents in Sittwe on 26-27 March 2014 (Yangon, 9 April 2014)
I welcome the response of the Government of the Union of Myanmar to the attacks against the UN and INGO premises in Sittwe, in particular the Government’s public condemnation of the violence, the rapid establishment by the President of the Investigation Commission chaired by the Deputy Minister of Border Affairs, and the recognition that the incident which sparked the attacks was purely unintentional.
I echo the Investigation Commission’s concern that the security services were unable to respond effectively and rapidly enough to the incidents on the 26 and 27 March to protect UN and NGO properties in Sittwe.
I welcome the Government’s commitment that the perpetrators of violence will be brought to justice. The international humanitarian operations were hit hard and I am very concerned about the impact that the disruption of critical life-saving services is having on vulnerable on the IDPs and other vulnerable communities we serve. I welcome the Investigation Commission’s assurances to facilitate an immediate return of humanitarian workers to Rakhine State.
I commend the significant efforts by the Union and State authorities to provide assistance in water, food, and health services in the past two weeks, even if they fall short of meeting the full needs of all people requiring humanitarian aid in Rakhine State. We would like to support the Government in building their capacity to provide further humanitarian assistance, if requested. It is important that Government take more responsibility for the provision and management of the humanitarian operation.
I welcome the Government’s assurances that the safety and security of humanitarian staff will be significantly improved and urge that the same be ensured for all communities in Rakhine State. I echo the call for better coordination, relationships, and communication between the Union-level Government, State-level Government, international organisations, civil society, and communities in Rakhine. The Government has extended its hand to us and we have taken it; now we must jointly deliver a better humanitarian response.
As international humanitarian and development organisations return to Rakhine, we need to take the opportunity to build back better, with the full cooperation and engagement of the authorities at all levels. In building back better, we must reframe the entire humanitarian and development operations in Rakhine. The UN will be undertaking a thorough review for this purpose.
If we are perceived as being culturally insensitive, we need to build back better with more cultural and conflict sensitivity. If we are perceived as not transparent, we need to find ways to be more transparent without hampering vital humanitarian services. If we are perceived as being biased, we need to explain better what we do and why, both in our humanitarian and development work, and we must increase our development assistance to Rakhine communities.
I join the Investigation Commission in expressing deep sorrow for the death of the 11 year old girl during the violence of the 27 March. It is so often the innocent who suffer most by violence. We look forward to a building back better with the full support and understanding of the Government and Rakhine communities so that such violence never recurs.
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