UN RC/HC remarks at the High Level Coordination Meeting on Programme for Immediate and Long Term Support of Relief and Resettlement for Flood Victims

Remarks by Ms. Renata Dessallien,

United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator,

High Level Coordination Meeting on Programme for Immediate and Long Term Support of Relief and Resettlement for Flood Victims

Nay Pyi Taw, 14 August 2015

Excellencies Dr. Daw Mya Mya Ohn Khin, U Kyaw Lwin and Dr. Kan Zaw,

Deputy Ministers, Senior Government Representatives,

Ambassadors, Representatives from partner organisations and my fellow UN colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the international humanitarian community, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to you for organizing this meeting.

Let me begin by extending to you our heart-felt condolences for the losses that Myanmar has suffered as the result of the floods and landslides. Our hearts go out to the families of over 100 people who have lost their loved ones and to the large number of people who, through this harrowing experience, continue to suffer as they try to rebuild their lives. The international community stands with the people of Myanmar and have been providing relief since the onset of the floods.

Let me also recognize the lead role different branches of the government have ably played in responding the emergency. We will continue to support your efforts for the recovery and rehabilitation phases of the response.

We are humbled by the extraordinary outpouring of solidarity and support by the Myanmar civil society across the country and their involvement with the flood response. Their generosity and commitment have showed to the world the caring and gracious spirit of the Myanmar people. They have shown that Myanmar is united as one in face of challenge.

I would also like to recognize the broad support from the international community, including the neighbouring and ASEAN countries, as well as traditional bilateral and multilateral partners for their rapid response.

We know that the impact of the heavy rains, floods and landslides are extensive but we are yet to fully determine the extent.   Immediate needs are nation-wide with a particular focus on the hardest hit areas of Chin, Magway, Sagaing and Rakhine. But we also know that the flood waters have moved south and evacuations have occurred in Bago and Ayeyarwaddy.

We know that natural disasters do not differentiate between people. The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to support transparent, equitable delivery of assistance to people based on need, with no differentiation based on any other criteria and with no political agenda. We urge government and other responders to do the same.

The UN and humanitarian partners are responding to immediate needs of the affected people in coordination with government at all levels. Humanitarian organisations have provided and are continuing to provide, relief supplies in evacuation centres, as well as to people in their towns and villages. It is important to sustain this emergency relief to until people are all back to their homes or can rebuild their lives.

Regarding rice seeds, I know that Myanmar farmers are at a critical phase in the cropping calendar where rice must be planted in less than two weeks, at the absolute maximum, in order to make the next harvest. Failure to do so will result in extensive food insecurity, extended economic hardship, and loss of rural livelihoods in large parts of the flood affected areas. We are dependent on government for this critical time-sensitive action.

Lessons learnt from past disasters globally as well as in Myanmar indicate that disaster-affected people who are often at their most vulnerable will have important protection concerns as they are exposed to different exploitative possibilities. The UN and our partners would like to bring these protection concerns to the attention of the Government. The Government’s activation of anti-trafficking units is an excellent preventative measure. But there will be many other protection needs that will be required. I take this opportunity to note the high level of cooperation between the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the UN system to address protection concerns through joint deployment of UN protection support staff with Government social workers. Thank you for that.

After two weeks since the onset of the flooding, the need to swiftly scale up recovery and rehabilitation assistance is crucial. We need to bear in mind that while the impact of the cyclone on the national economy will be huge, it will be acutely felt at the household level, requiring immediate support to maintain and improve resiliency of effected families and their communities. We look forward to working closely with, and in support of government in all phases of recovery.

We are encouraged to see financial support to flood relief is coming in from many corners to support the government-led response: bilateral donors, multilateral organisations, private sector and from communities. We urge our donors to continue with their generosity not only in supporting the immediate needs but also for the much needed early recovery and rehabilitation work, so as to avoid an extensive nation-wide household level economic emergency.

For humanitarian assistance to be effective, it requires access to effected areas and effected people. We are pleased that the Union government has put in place a mechanism for rapid travel authorization for international humanitarian organizations and have relaxed other requirements. We look forward to your continued activation of this process, and its extension to Rakhine.

In conclusion, I would like to again note the able leadership role played by the government in the emergency response. Not only has it led the response, but it has been quick to put at the disposal of humanitarians, its helicopters, planes and naval ships that allowed, for example, some 700 tons of WFP food and non-food items to be transported and disseminated to some of Myanmar’s most inaccessible locations such as to Chin State, where the destruction of the roads have limited opportunities for delivery of relief and recovery items. We understand the situation in some areas of Chin is particularly dire right now and ask that the Government and humanitarian community to respond there as a matter of priority.

I look forward to our continued partnership in the response to the current natural disaster, and to fruitful exchanges today.

Kyay-Zoo-tin- bar-de.

 

 

 

ကုလသမဂၢဌာေန ညႇိႏႈိင္းေရးႏွင့္ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာမႈဆိုင္ရာ ညႇိႏႈိင္းေရးမႉး Ms. Renata Dessallien ၏ ျမန္မာႏို္င္ငံ ေရေဘးႏွင့္စပ္လ်ဥ္း၍ ထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္

ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံဆိုင္ရာ ကုလသမဂဌာေန ညိႏႈိင္းေရးႏွင့္ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာမႈဆိုင္ရာ ညိႏႈိင္းေရးမ

Ms. Renata Dessallien ၏ ျမန္မာႏို္င္ငံ ေရေဘးႏွင့္စပ္လ်ဥ္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္

(ရန္ကုန္၊ ၁၂ ရက္၊ ၾသဂုတ္လ ၂၀၁၅ ခုႏွစ္) ကြၽန္မသည္ စစ္ကိုင္းတိုင္း ကေလးၿမိဳ႕နယ္တြင္ ေရေဘးေၾကာင့္ထိခိုက္ခံစားခဲ့ရေသာ ျပည္သူမ်ားကို ေတြ႔ဆံုလ်က္၊ ေဆာင္ရြက္ေနေသာ ကယ္ဆယ္ေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားေလ့လာရာမွ ယေန႔ျပန္လည္ေရာက္ရွိ ပါသည္။ ခရီးစဥ္တြင္ ကြၽန္မႏွင့္အတူ အစိုးရအရာရွိမ်ား၊ သံအမတ္မ်ား၊ အစိုးရ မဟုတ္သည့္ အဖြဲ႔အစည္း မ်ားႏွင့္ ကုလသမဂၢ အဖြဲ႔အစည္းမ်ားမွ ပုဂၢိဳလ္မ်ားလည္း လိုက္ပါခဲ့ၾကသည္။ ပ်က္စီးဆံုးရႈံးမႈမ်ားစြာကို ႀကံဳေတြ႕ ခဲ့ရသည့္ ေဒသခံမ်ား၏အေၾကာင္းကို ၾကားခဲ့ရၿပီး၊ ႀကီးမားသည့္ အပ်က္အစီးမ်ားကို ျမင္ေတြ႕ခဲ့ရသည့္ အတြက္လည္း ကြၽႏု္ပ္အေနျဖင့္ မ်ားစြာစိတ္ထိခိုက္မိ ပါသည္။ ေရမ်ားျပန္က်သြားခ်ိန္တြင္ ရပ္ရြာမ်ားမွာ ရႊံ႕မ်ား၊ အပ်က္အစီး မ်ားစြာျဖင့္ က်န္ခဲ့သည္။ စိုက္ပ်ိဳး သီးႏွံမ်ားစြာပ်က္စီးခဲ့ၿပီး၊ အိမ္မ်ားၿပိဳက်ပ်က္စီး၍၊ ေမြးျမဴထားသည့္ ကြၽဲ၊ႏြား တိရစၧာန္မ်ား ေသဆံုးခဲ့ကာ၊ ပိုင္ဆိုင္မႈမ်ားမွာလည္း ေရႏွင့္အတူ ေမ်ာပါဆံုးရံႈး ခဲ့ၾကရသည္။

ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံရွိ ျပည္သူမ်ားမွာ ကမၻာေပၚတြင္ ေစတနာသဒၵါတရား အထက္သန္ဆံုးေသာသူမ်ားတြင္ ပါဝင္ၿပီး၊ ေရေဘးသင့္သူမ်ားအတြက္ ျပည္သူမ်ားမွ တစ္ညီတစ္ညြတ္တည္း စိတ္အား ထက္သန္စြာ လွဴဒါန္းမႈ၊ ပူးေပါင္းပါဝင္မႈမ်ား အတြက္လည္း အထူးပင္ က်ိဳးႏြံစြာ ခံစားရပါေၾကာင္း ေျပာၾကားလိုပါသည္။ ေစတနာ့ ဝန္ထမ္းမ်ား၊ ေဒသတြင္း အဖဲြ႕အစည္း မ်ားမွ ဝန္ထမ္းမ်ား၊ အာဏာပိုင္မ်ား၊ ပုဂၢလိကလုပ္ငန္းမ်ား၊ အစိုးရ မဟုတ္သည့္ အရပ္ဖက္လူမႈအဖြဲ႔အစည္းမ်ား၊ ႏိုင္ငံေက်ာ္အႏုပညာရွင္မ်ားႏွင့္ သာမန္လူပုဂၢိဳလ္မ်ား စသည့္ အင္အားစုအားလံုးသည္ စာနာကရုဏာထားမႈ၊ ေစတနာသဒၵါတရားအျပည့္ႏွင့္ ရဲရဲရင့္ရင့္၊ အင္တိုက္ အားတိုက္ အစြမ္းကုန္ ကူညီေဆာင္ရြက္ျခင္းျဖင့္ ျမန္မာတို႔၏ စိတ္ဓာတ္ကို ျပသလ်က္ ရွိပါသည္။

ကြၽႏ္ုပ္အေနျဖင့္ ၄င္းေနထိုင္ရာေဒသမွ ေရေဘးသင့္ ျပည္သူမ်ားကို ေဘးလြတ္ရာသို႔ ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းႏိုင္ရန္ ကူညီေပးရင္း ဝမ္းနည္းဖြယ္ေကာင္းစြာျဖင့္အသက္ဆံုးရႈံးခဲ့ရသည့္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံၾကက္ေျခနီအသင္းမွ ေစတနာ့ ဝန္ထမ္း ကိုေက်ာ္ေက်ာ္လင္း၏ မိသားစုအတြက္ အလြန္ပင္ စာနာဝမ္နည္းေၾကာင္း ေျပာၾကား လိုပါသည္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ အစိုးရအေနျဖင့္ ေဒသခံျပည္သူမ်ားကို ေရလြတ္ရာသို႔ ေရႊ႕ေျပာင္းေပးျခင္း၊ ကနဦး အေရးေပၚ လိုအပ္ခ်က္မ်ား ကိုတုန္႔ျပန္ေဆာင္ရြက္ျခင္းအျပင္၊ အလွဴရွင္ႏိုင္ငံမ်ားႏွင့္ ေစတနာရွင္မ်ားကိုလည္း ပါဝင္ လာေစရန္ စြမ္းေဆာင္ျခင္းျဖင့္ ေရေဘးတုန္႔ျပန္ကယ္ဆယ္ေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားကို တာဝန္ေက်စြာ ဦးစီး ေဆာင္ရြက္လ်က္ရွိသည္။

အသက္ကယ္ဆယ္ေရး အေထာက္အပံ့မ်ား အလ်င္အျမန္ေပးအပ္ႏိုင္ရန္ လိုအပ္သည့္ ရန္ပံုေငြမ်ား ပံ့ပိုးခဲ့ၿပီး၊ ေရရွည္တြင္ ျပန္လည္ထူေထာင္ေရးႏွင့္ ျပန္လည္တည္ေဆာက္ေရး ႀကိဳးပမ္းမႈမ်ားကို လုပ္ေဆာင္ ႏိုင္ရန္အတြက္လည္း ဆက္လက္ပံပိုးသြားမည္ဟု ကတိျပဳထားသည့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာ အသိုင္းအဝိုင္း၊ အဓိကအားျဖင့္ ေဒသတြင္းရွိႏိုင္ငံမ်ားႏွင့္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံကို အစဥ္အၿမဲ ပံပိုးေပးလ်က္ရွိသည့္ အလွဴရွင္ ႏိုင္ငံမ်ားကိုလည္း ကြၽႏ္ုပ္အေနျဖင့္ အထူးပင္ ေက်းဇူးတင္ရွိပါသည္။

ေရေဘးစတင္သည့္အခ်ိန္မွစ၍ ကုလသမဂၢအေနျဖင့္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံအစိုးရ၊ မိတ္ဖက္အဖြဲ႔အစည္းမ်ားႏွင့္ လက္တြဲလုပ္ေဆာင္လ်က္ရွိပါသည္။ ႏိုင္ငံတစ္ဝွမ္းလံုးတြင္ ေရေဘးတကယ္ဆယ္ေထာက္ပံ့ေရး လုပ္ငန္း မ်ားကို လုပ္ေဆာင္ႏိုင္ရန္ လက္ရွိအခ်ိန္တြင္ ကုလသမဂၢအေနျဖင့္ အေမရိကန္ေဒၚလာ ၁၀ သန္း ကိုပံ့ပိုး ေပးထားခဲ့ၿပီး၊ ၄င္းမွာ ယေန႔အခ်ိန္ထိ ရရွိထားသည့္ ႏိုင္ငံတကာမွ ပံ့ပိုးကူညီမႈမ်ား၏ ထက္ဝက္ႏွင့္ ညီမွ် ပါသည္။

 

ယေန႔အခ်ိန္အထိ ကြၽႏ္ုပ္တို႔ ပူေပါင္းေဆာင္ရြက္လ်က္ရွိသည့္ တုန္႔ျပန္ကယ္ဆယ္ေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားမွာ ေရေဘးသင့္ျပည္သူမ်ား၏ အေျခခံလိုအပ္ခ်က္မ်ားကို ျဖည့္ဆည္းေပးလ်က္ရွိသည္။ သို႔ေသာ္ မိုးရာသီမွာ ကုန္ဆံုးမႈမရွိေသးပဲ၊ ထပ္မံ၍လည္း မိုးမ်ားရြာႏိုင္သည္ဟု ခန္႔မွန္းခ်က္မ်ားေၾကာင့္ ကြၽႏ္ုပ္တို႔အေနျဖင့္ အထူးပင္ စိုးရိမ္ပူပန္မိပါသည္။ ျပည္သူမ်ား၏ အေရးေပၚလိုအပ္ခ်က္မ်ားကို ျဖည့္ဆည္းႏိုင္ရန္ႏွင့္ အသက္ေမြးဝမ္းေက်ာင္း၊ ပုိင္ဆိုင္မႈမ်ားဆံုးရံႈးခဲ့ရသူမ်ား လွ်င္ျမန္စြာ ျပန္လည္ ထူေထာင္ႏိုင္ေရးကို ေဆာင္ရြက္ေပးသြား ႏိုင္ရန္အတြက္ ကြၽန္ုပ္တို႔၏ ႀကိဳးပမ္းေဆာင္ရြက္ခ်က္မ်ားကို ဆက္လက္ အားထုတ္ လုပ္ေဆာင္သြားၾကရပါမည္။

အစိုးရႏွင့္ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာမႈဆိုင္ရာညႇိႏႈိင္းေရးရံုးမွ ေနာက္ဆံုး ထုတ္ျပန္သည့္ ေရေဘးအေျခအေနဆိုင္ရာ အစီရင္ခံစာမ်ားကို ရယူရန္ http://bit.ly/1MjC7vU
ပိုမို သိရွိလိုပါက ဆက္သြယ္ရန္

ဖ်ဲပယ္ရြန္ ၊ ျပန္ၾကားဆက္သြယ္ေရးအရာရွိ၊ လူသားခ်င္းစာနာမႈဆိုင္ရာညႇိႏႈိင္းေရးရံုး၊

အီးေမးလ္ – peronp@un.org၊ ဖုန္း – (+၉၅) ၉ ၂၅၀ ၁၉၈ ၉၉၇။

ဦးေအးဝင္း၊ ေဒသခံျပန္ၾကားေရးအရာရွိ၊ ကုလသမဂၢျပန္ၾကားေရးဌာန၊

အီးေမးလ္ – wina@un.org၊ ဖုန္း – (+၉၅၉၅) ၉၀၉ ၄၂၁၀ ၆၀၃၄၃ ၄၂၁ ၀၆၀ ၃၄၃။

Statement on Floods in Myanmar

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Renata Dessallien

Statement on Floods in Myanmar

(Yangon, 12 August 2015) Today I returned from Kale Township in Sagaing Region, where I visited communities affected by the floods and observed ongoing relief efforts. I was joined by government officials, several ambassadors, NGOs and UN colleagues.

I was deeply moved by the stories of local people whose lives have been shattered and by the scenes of devastation that I witnessed. The waters are now receding, leaving behind entire communities buried under mud and debris. Crops have been destroyed, homes have collapsed, livestock have been killed, and precious belongings have been swept away.

The people of Myanmar are among the most generous in the world and I am humbled by the incredible, spontaneous public outpouring of solidarity and assistance to flood-affected communities. The masses of volunteers, staff of local organizations, authorities, private sector, NGOs, celebrities and ordinary people, in their caring and generosity, dedication and courage are showing the true spirit of Myanmar.

I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Kyaw Kyaw Lin, a Myanmar Red Cross Society volunteer, who tragically died while helping members of his local community to escape the floods. The response to the floods has been ably led by the Government who have managed the evacuations and initial response, and enabled so many other friends and well-wishers to fully respond.

I would also like to thank the international community, particularly countries in the region and traditional donor countries, who have been quick to fund immediate life-saving assistance and who have pledged to provide support to the recovery and reconstruction efforts in the longer term.

The UN has been working with the Myanmar Government and partners since the onset of the floods. The UN is currently providing USD 10 million in flood assistance across the country, representing half the total international response so far.

To date, our joint response is meeting basic needs of flood-affected people. But the rainy season is not over and we are concerned with reports forecasting additional rains. We must sustain our efforts both to meet immediate needs, as well as to ensure that people, whose assets and livelihoods have been lost, can quickly recover.

The latest situation reports from the Government and OCHA are available at: http://bit.ly/1MjC7vU

For more information please contact:

Pierre Peron, Public Information Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, peronp@un.org , Tel. (+95) 9250198997

U Aye Win, National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre, Yangon, wina@un.org ,

Tel. (+95) 9 21060343

End of Mission Statement Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 7 August 2015

End of Mission Statement
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar
7 August 2015

I conclude my third official visit to the country as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar as the country is coming to grips with the scale of destruction and loss of human life caused by the floods. I conveyed my deepest sympathies and profound sadness to all those I met during the mission and wish to renew those sentiments publicly now and particularly to the families of the victims and all those who have been affected by this disaster.

During this visit, I have been touched and inspired to see the strength of spirit and the solidarity of the Myanmar people at this time of crisis. Over the course of the past few days, I saw increasing public efforts to mobilize, volunteer and provide assistance. I welcome the seriousness with which the Government of Myanmar has responded to this crisis as well as the mobilization international assistance. I call on the international community to provide continued support and assistance to all those in need, not only now but also in the weeks and months ahead, as communities rebuild their lives. I am aware that Rakhine State is one of the hardest hit areas and I would like to reiterate the call of many members of the state-level Emergency Coordination Centre for the provision of agricultural seedlings, the pumping of ponds and wells, and the reconstruction of schools and homes to be prioritized. I extend my hand in friendship and reaffirm my willingness to assist in any way possible.

I would like to thank the Government of Myanmar for its invitation and for maintaining cooperation with my mandate. I particularly would like to note with appreciation the efforts made to ensure my safety and that of my team in this particularly difficult time. I would also like to thank the United Nations Country Team for their support and assistance. My programme will be listed in detail when my statement is made available publicly online.

The objective of my visit was to assess the human rights situation in Myanmar at this key moment ahead of the coming elections scheduled for 8 November. Accordingly, I sought to meet and engage with a wide spectrum of stakeholders across the country in order to hear a diversity of perspectives and to see the situation with my own eyes. I was pleased to have had constructive and frank discussions with all those I met, even on sensitive issues on some of which we held different views. I regret, however, that the Government could not agree to my request for a 10-day visit as per my previous visits. I am also disappointed that requested meetings and visits were not granted or suddenly changed or cancelled at the last minute without prior notice. This unfortunately hampers my ability to fulfil my mandate. I hope to continue dialogue in my next visit with the Ministers I was not able to meet this time. I will continue to seek and receive relevant information from all relevant stakeholders within the scope of my mandate in order to provide an objective, balanced and comprehensive assessment to the General Assembly.

I unfortunately received credible information that some of my interlocutors were photographed by security officials. I also heard that some individuals I met with in previous visits were monitored, photographed and later questioned by security personnel. I therefore asked all civil society actors, media workers and prisoners with whom I met, to report to me any cases of reprisal. The Government of Myanmar must ensure the safety of all my interlocutors and guarantee that they will not be subjected to any form of reprisals, including threats, harassment, punishment or judicial proceedings as required by the Human Rights Council. I raised these concerns with the Government throughout my visit and in my meetings in Nay Pyi Taw. I have been assured by the Minister of Home Affairs that no reprisals will occur for this and upcoming visits.

Today, I wish to highlight some preliminary observations from my visit. These issues, along with others, will be elaborated in more detail in the report I will present to the 70th session of the General Assembly later this year.

Elections

Elections can be a transformative moment in a country’s history. For Myanmar, the upcoming elections will be an important milestone in its transition to democracy and an opportunity to reaffirm and consolidate the reform process. In my meeting with Government interlocutors and specifically with the Union Election Commission, I urged that all efforts be made to ensure the holding of free and fair elections, the outcomes of which will be deemed credible and legitimate. This is what the people of Myanmar and, more broadly, the international community expect. In this regard, I welcome the steps taken thus far to address some of the problems and shortcomings of the 2010 elections. I also welcome the Government’s close cooperation with a number of organizations for technical assistance and advice, as well as election observation missions. And I note positively the Government’s invitation to national and international actors to observe the elections.

To be truly free and fair, the elections must be inclusive and must truly reflect the will of the people. Thus, while acknowledging the Government’s efforts to publicize the voter lists and to make the necessary corrections, many interlocutors have expressed to me their continuing concerns regarding errors in the voter lists.

I am also concerned by the possible disenfranchisement of thousands of individuals cutting across all sectors of Myanmar society. They include migrant workers, internally displaced persons and refugees who face specific challenges in checking voter lists, producing the required documentation, registering to vote and accessing polling stations. I understand that the Union Election Commission is taking some measures to address these challenges. Yet, I believe that more proactive measures must be envisaged and taken – through consultation with the affected communities and with the assistance and advice of relevant national and international actors.

Additionally I am concerned by the possible disenfranchisement of those living in conflict-affected areas such as Kachin and northern Shan States, as well as other parts of Myanmar where elections may be cancelled for security reasons. Clear criteria for the cancellation of elections need to be more clearly outlined; information on such measures must be made widely available.

Of grave concern to me is the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of individuals who previously held temporary registration cards (or white cards). White card holders were allowed to vote in the 2010 elections but lost this right in February 2015 following the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal. This impacts a number of communities and individuals in Myanmar but particularly the Muslim community in Rakhine State. The Chair of the Union Election Commission stated that holders of the new green identity cards (“identity cards for those whose nationality will be scrutinized”) will not be allowed to vote. This is of serious concern.

Conflict and peace process

Ongoing conflict has clear implications on the holding of inclusive and peaceful elections in areas throughout Myanmar. I welcomed the opportunity to have a discussion with members of the Myanmar Peace Centre and other interlocutors on developments regarding the signing of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). My visit coincided with the holding of peace negotiations between the Union Peace-Making Working Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team – Senior Delegation (SD) and I was honoured to have been invited to briefly observe the proceedings. The signing of the document will be a significant achievement for Myanmar.

In line with my mandate and as previously raised, I highlighted the importance of fully integrating human rights issues – including past and present human rights violations, discrimination and historically entrenched inequalities, as well as land and natural resource rights issues – during the negotiation phase. I was assured that some human rights issues were included in the NCA but that they would be fully discussed in the Union Peace Dialogue. I hope that commitments can be firmly made and processes established to ensure accountability, equality and non-discrimination after the ceasefire is achieved. In this way, a subsequent national dialogue can truly address the underlying grievances and aspirations of ethnic populations in order to ensure sustainable peace.

Also, as acknowledged by many, greater efforts must be made to ensure the full participation and inclusion of women in all stages of the peace process. This must go beyond statements and references to the importance of Security Council resolution 1325, to actually translate commitments into concrete actions, and to implement proactive and creative measures to ensure women’s full participation going forward.

In my discussions on the ongoing clashes and conflict in a number of areas throughout Myanmar, many interlocutors also reported continuing allegations of human rights violations – specifically highlighting allegations of sexual violence – by the military and armed groups, particularly in Kachin and northern Shan States. They expressed frustration that little or limited action has been taken to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators. I have consistently raised these concerns and continued to do so in my meetings with Government interlocutors during my visit. I will address these issues in more detail in my report and provide recommendations in this regard.

Situation in Rakhine State

The disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of former white card holders is an issue that must be seen against the backdrop of institutionalized discrimination against the Muslim population in Rakhine State. Some have informed me that these are sensitive issues which should not be raised publicly given the risk of fueling communal tensions and potential conflict, and that my previous statements and publicly expressed views on this issue have caused discord. But I cannot shy away from continuing to highlight serious human rights violations and make principled but constructive recommendations. This is fully in line with my mandate and is rooted in Myanmar’s international human rights commitments and obligations.

It is in this spirit that I requested to visit Rakhine State and I regret that this request was denied by the Government well before my visit had started. I firmly believe in the importance of making my assessment based on the realities I have seen for myself on the ground. While immensely grateful for the opportunity to engage constructively with the Chief Minster, the Rakhine State authorities and members of the Emergency Coordination Centre, as well as some of the Rakhine Elders, I am acutely conscious that they were brought to Yangon especially to meet with me, while dealing at the same time with a natural disaster.

In my upcoming report to the General Assembly, I will address the situation in Rakhine State in greater detail. I will highlight various measures, including the planned return and resettlement of thousands of households affected by the communal violence of 2012, and efforts to promote dialogue between the two communities. I will also highlight remaining concerns and challenges, including the regional implications of irregular migration from Rakhine State. Of particular concern are restrictions on the freedom of movement, which severely impact access to basic and essential health care, education and livelihoods. Allow me to simply state now that more must and can be done to address the legal status of the Rohingya and the institutionalized discrimination faced by this community.

One practical step that could go a long way to improve the situation of youth in Rakhine State is to give priority emphasis to improving education opportunities and access to higher education. Restrictions imposed on the Muslim community which impede their access to higher education should be lifted and improvements in the general quality of education available should be made.

Freedom of expression, assembly and association
In order to be truly free and fair, elections require an environment that encourages the full participation of all sectors of society. In this regard, political parties and civil society actors must be able to operate freely. Independent media must be able to cover and report on all relevant matters related to the elections. Guarantees for the exercise of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and the freedom of peaceful assembly and association are vital to the democratic process, prior to, during and after the elections. They provide the crucial means for individuals and groups to voice their concerns and interests and to participate in public and political life.

On 30 July 2015, just before my visit, I was pleased to learn that some political prisoners were released as part of the Presidential amnesty. But the majority remain behind bars. In my interviews with political prisoners in Insein and Tharawaddy prisons, I was touched by their commitment to contribute to the future of Myanmar. I was particularly moved by the words of one prisoner who told me of his sadness in not being able to participate in flood relief efforts. Many emphasized that they were not against the Government and simply wanted to bring about positive changes to the country. These are the kind of people that Myanmar needs at this critical juncture.
Of concern is the sense among human rights defenders and civil society actors of increased monitoring and surveillance of their activities, and of increased intimidation and harassment by security personnel and state agents. Since my last visit in January 2015, I observed the continuing arrests and convictions of civil society actors – including students, political activists, workers, union leaders, farmers and community organisers – exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. Many face multiple charges and trials in different townships in relation to a single protest. This practice should immediately come to an end. Some with whom I spoke believe that this is deliberately done to ensure that they remain in prison and are excluded from the upcoming elections.
The violent police crackdown against students and their supporters on 10 March 2015 in Letpadan (Bago region) illustrates all of this vividly. I was given access to the protest site, met with the authorities, and interviewed five individuals detained in Tharawaddy prison. I received allegations of excessive use of force by the police and call on the authorities to conduct a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into these allegations. In my view, these people have been arbitrarily arrested. I therefore call for their immediate and unconditional release and I urge that all charges be dropped against all those arrested in connection with the Letpadan incident.
Article 18 of the 2014 Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code continue to be selectively used against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. I would like to highlight once again the incompatibility of these provisions with international standards.
I also remain concerned by the arrests of journalists and media professionals under defamation, harassment, trespassing and national security laws that are not consistent with international human rights standards. The killing of Ko Par Gyi (aka Aung Kyaw Naing) and the attack on the Eleven Media CEO, for which the perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice, create a climate of fear and uncertainty within the media. Journalists and media workers contribute to public debate and are vital for democratic societies. They will have an even more crucial role to play prior, during and after the elections. The freedom of expression and independent journalism, uninhibited by fear of legal reprisals, intimidation or even violence, must be ensured.
Incitement
I was heartened to hear that the majority of the population is against hate speech and incitement to hatred. Religious leaders and civil society actors are increasingly engaging in interfaith activities and are working hard to build a more tolerant and inclusive society. At the same time, I also observed the increasing influence of religious extremists in this pre-electoral period. I have received reports by human rights defenders and journalists of threats and intimidation by these actors and the lack of action taken against them.
During my visit, I raised the case of U Htin Lin Oo, who was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour for “insulting religion” for a speech he gave in October 2014 criticizing the use of Buddhism as a tool for extreme nationalism. I also referred to the shocking video of a political party leader addressing a rally in the Bahan township of Yangon on 27 May 2015, in which he urged those present to “kill, shoot and bury” the [Rohingya]. The crowd can be heard repeating his statements. To my knowledge, this political party leader has not faced any legal action. I highlighted these two cases to show the stark difference in treatment. The Government must do more to combat hate speech and incitement to violence.
Legislative reform
In the context of continuing legislative reforms, many interlocutors expressed concern about the lack of compliance of new or revised bills and laws with international human rights standards. While some do not fully comply with international standards, others – like the “Protection of Race and Religion” legislative package – clearly violate these norms. Outdated laws that have previously been highlighted as not being in compliance with international human rights standards also remain on the books.
Additionally, I was told by many civil society actors that laws were being rushed ahead of the elections without proper consultation. In other cases, bills have been discussed for a long time but then amended at the last minute removing key provisions. These issues will be addressed in greater detail in my next report to the General Assembly.
Economic, social and cultural rights

The arrests and convictions of those involved in protests related to land rights, extractive industries and large-scale development projects are still ongoing. This issue must be seen in the context of continuing concerns regarding the prevalence of land grabbing, land confiscations and forced evictions by the military and by private actors for large scale development projects, mining and other natural resource extractive industries. I remain of the view that these complex issues will continue to be one of the major challenges facing Myanmar after the elections. While I will elaborate upon this in my report to the General Assembly, I will state generally that priority attention should continue to be given to these issues in accordance with human rights principles and standards. This requires that the principles of equality and non-discrimination, participation, protection, transparency and accountability, including access to appropriate remedy, are fully taken into account.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by reaffirming my commitment to engage constructively and openly with the Government and all other stakeholders. While I am fully aware of the complexities of the situation in Myanmar and the reform process, I cannot hold Myanmar to a lower standard. I must continue to objectively assess the situation against the country’s own international human rights obligations.

Ahead of the elections, one key recommendation I can make to the Government of Myanmar is to reconsider its fear and opposition to critical and independent voices. Civil society actors, journalists and ordinary citizens exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are not threats; instead they are the voice of different communities and interests in Myanmar – in all its wonderful and rich diversity – and they play a vital role in contributing to and sustaining a robust democracy, and in advocating for the promotion and protection of human rights. They should be seen as partners and their actions and voices should not be restricted, but rather heard, facilitated and supported.

I stand with you, the people of Myanmar, as you chart your way forward in this historic moment.

Annex 1 – List of Meetings

Union Government Officials

  •  U Thant Kyaw, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Brig. Gen. Aung Than, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Defense
  • U Tin Aye, Chairman, Union Election Commission
  • Lt. Gen. Ko Ko, Union Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Brig. Gen Kyaw Zan Myint, Secretary of Land Use Management Central Committee
  • Dr. Tun Shin, Union Attorney General
  • Advisors to the President:
    – Legal Advisors: U Sit Aye; Daw Khin Myo Myint; U Yan Naing Win
    – Political Advisor: U Ko Ko Hlaing
    – Economic Advisors: U Tin Htut Oo; Dr. Zaw Oo; Dr. Sein Hla Ko

Rakhine State

  • U Maung Maung Ohn, Chief Minister

Representatives of the Emergency Coordination Center and the Rakhine Elders

Other institutions

  • Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
  • Myanmar Peace Center

Civil society actors

  • Lawyers
  • Media workers
  • Actors working on land rights issues; women’s rights and gender issues; elections; freedom of expression and association; 88 Generation Peace and Open Society; Rohingya leaders; interfaith groups
  • Recently released prisoners
  • Religious leaders
  • Center for Diversity and National Harmony
  • Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Detainees in Insein Prison

  • Naw Ohn Hla
  • Wint Kyaw Hmu
  • Sabe
  • Nay Lynn Dwe
  • Sai Tin Min Tun
  • Nay Myo Zin

Detainees Tharawaddy Prison

  • Phyoe Phyoe Aung
  • Thiha Than Win (aka Min Thwe Thit)
  • Honey Oo
  • Kyaw Kyaw Htun (aka Aung Myin)
  • Nanda Sit Aung

Myanmar: UN Special Rapporteur starts official visit

YANGON / GENEVA (3 August 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, started her third official visit to the country today, from 3 to 7 August.

Ms. Lee will meet with relevant authorities, national institutions, civil society organizations and other stakeholders. The Special Rapporteur is mandated by the Human Rights Council to assess the human rights situation in Myanmar, including information on the progress in the electoral process and reform in the run-up to the November elections.

“Myanmar is at an important juncture. I will continue to carry out the functions of my mandate in a balanced, impartial, and transparent manner ,” Ms. Lee stated.

The Special Rapporteur will submit her report* to the UN General Assembly in October 2015.

A press conference will be held at the end of the Special Rapporteur’s visit on Friday 7 August. Details on time and venue will be announced during the course of the visit. Access to the press conference will be strictly limited to journalists.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s previous reports: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=89

ENDS

Ms. Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center, and serves as Vice-chair of the National Unification Advisory Council. Learn more, go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests , please contact:
In Yangon (during the mission, 3 to 7 August): U Aye Win, National Information Officer (+95 94 210 60343 / wina@un.org)
In Geneva (after the mission): Caroline Avanzo ( cavanzo@ohchr.org )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en

Statement from Mr Eamonn Murphy, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i.

I am very concerned by the extensive flooding that has caused loss of life and property in several areas of Myanmar over the past days.

On behalf of the United Nations, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of victims and to all communities affected by the floods.

I commend the ongoing efforts being led by the Myanmar authorities and military, civil society groups, local organizations, and the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

The UN and international humanitarian organizations have offered their support and are already working closely with the Myanmar authorities at local, State, and Union levels to assess urgent needs and are providing support to the humanitarian response.

We have dispatched assessment teams to the most affected areas to evaluate the humanitarian situation and identify priorities in terms of water and sanitation, shelter, food, and other relief items.

Myanmar is prone to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, and earthquakes. Over the past years, the UN has worked with the Myanmar Government on contingency plans to improve emergency response preparedness and on disaster risk reduction programmes to strengthen the resilience of communities in times like these.

Press Release: FAO launch of the Regional Overview of Food Insecurity -Asia and the Pacific 2015

Yangon, Myanmar 3 June 2015. According to The Regional Overview of Food Insecurity -Asia and the Pacific 2015, a report published annually by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) as part of the global State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2015), the Asia-Pacific region has achieved the Millennium Development Goals’ hunger target (MDG-1c) of halving the proportion of undernourished people in 2015. The region has also achieved the largest reduction in the absolute number of undernourished people (236 million). However, this was not sufficient to meet the target set by the World Food Summit (WFS) of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015.

There are large disparities among sub-regions and countries in the region. While Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia have achieved both the MDG-1c and the WFS hunger targets, highly populous Southern Asia has not met either target. Oceania did not reach the MDG-1c target due to show progress while the absolute number of hungry actually increased. There are 490 million people still suffering chronic hunger in the region, and Asia and the Pacific is home to almost 62 percent of the world’s undernourished.

The report also highlight the serious challenge facing the region, the remaining undernourished 12 percent of the total population that is still hungry and has been left behind, denied their share of the benefits of economic growth. They are the poor and most vulnerable groups in society. Therefore, the challenge facing the region is not only to produce more food from the increasingly limited natural resource base, but also how to ensure more equitable access to food, while addressing various threats such as climate change

Myanmar is part of the group of countries who achieved both the MDG-1 and the WFS targets by reducing the number of undernourished people by half in 2015. The Government of the Union of Myanmar has placed its most priority to the eradication of hunger in the country. As reflection of its highest commitment, the National Zero Hunger Challenge was launched by the Government on the occasion of the World Food Day (October 16, 2014). A number of policy commitments and institutional and technological innovations combined with effective social protection measures are required to meet this challenge, in an overall framework of sustainable economic growth that is more equitably shared and environmentally sustainable.

“The National Zero Hunger Challenge should focus on supporting resource-poor family farms and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society” said FAO Representative in Myanmar, Ms. Bui Thi Lan.

The global report was issued in Rome on May 27 2015 and on May 28 by FAO Regional office for Asia and Pacific in Bangkok. ENDS.

Statement by Mr Vijay Nambiar Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar

Check against delivery

Ceremony of the Release of the Census Main Results

Statement by Mr Vijay Nambiar Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
29 May 2015

Your Excellency U Thein Sein, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,
Your Excellency Minister of Immigration and Population, U Khin Yi
Senior government officials present,
Members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of Donor countries,
UN colleagues, Members of the media,

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to be here today to this ceremony to mark the release of the main results of the Nationwide Population and Household Census undertaken last year by the Government of Myanmar. This is a monumental achievement.

For the first time in three decades, and despite many challenges, Myanmar has a reliable demographic profile of its population. Such a profile will be of immense utility for both the development as well as the democratic process in the country.

Many people have helped achieve this success — officials of the MoIP, technical staff of the DoP, the UNFPA country office, international advisers and observers, the over 100,000 teachers and others who served as enumerators, and the millions of people who participated.

At the United Nations we are proud to have collaborated with the Government of Myanmar in this important project.

The support from international donors was also critical in carrying out this costly but essential exercise.

It was just three years ago here in Nay Pyi Taw that the UN Secretary-General witnessed the exchange of letters formally launching the 2014 Population and Household Census mechanism, and committing Myanmar to following international standards for conducting the census. That kicked off a massive and complex process, on a very ambitious timeline.

As the country had not undertaken a census in 30 years, capacity had to be built from the ground up with international support, in all aspects of the census, including mapping, logistics and data processing.

A wide-ranging outreach effort was also needed to raise public awareness about the census process and purpose, and ensure the support of leaders from diverse communities throughout the country.

While we celebrate the realization of this project, we must also recognize that the census was not without problems, and that the project has had to face some important challenges that called for continued outreach and dialogue.

Organizing all this in such a short time span and amid an ambitious process of democratic reform was daunting, and there were some who felt the census should have waited until after the 2015 elections.

But such a postponement would have delayed the availability of essential population data by at least three more years and would have left the country without accurate data needed to guide decisions relating to people’s well-being, economic investments, policy making, development planning, infrastructure and the improvement of health, education, sanitation, and a variety of other social services.

The collection of data, while labour intensive, was an immensely edifying experience. It was a massive national exercise of participation involving people of all social levels and ethnic backgrounds, building trust between government officials and local communities.

Admittedly, there have been some significant challenges. A wide range of organizations including ethnic armed groups were engaged in the pre-census dialogue on modalities to ensure that everyone would be counted, even in regions that never had a census before. Trust had to be built on all sides to make this happen, and this was, by and large, achieved. Such trust building will be critical to Myanmar’s all-important ongoing peace process.

The scope of the census was breathtaking. In just 12 days, more than 50 million people were enumerated, almost 98 per cent of Myanmar’s population, in thousands of localities including the country’s most remote places.

Today we know with confidence how many people live in almost every state and township, their age breakdown and other details crucial to planning. After further analysis, we will know a great deal more about people’s economic activities as well as invaluable information for promoting sustainable development through economic reform and sound investments.

While recognizing the achievements of the census, we must not overlook some of its shortcomings. In northern Rakhine, a considerable segment of the population was left out of the exercise amid ongoing communal tensions and the demand of many local people to self-identify as Rohingya, a demand that was not conceded by the authorities. This controversy prevented many people from being counted and census maps were used to estimate the number of uncounted people. Other details necessary for a complete census in this region remain un-provided. It will be necessary to conduct social surveys in the months ahead to help fill this data gap.

The official list of ethnic groups used in the census was also a source of disagreement and misgivings. The Government has wisely decided to convene a consultative process to revise the categorization to represent Myanmar’s ethnic diversity more accurately before it releases ethnic data. This upcoming negotiation, while not part of the census process, will be a critical step in Myanmar’s democratization. It will require time, patience, dedication and the broadest possible engagement of ethnic groups and communities.

Now that the census is over, an equally complex process must begin: the country must build its capacity to use the data for effective planning and decision making; these efforts should help increase accountability and good governance. The UN stands ready to support the Government in this vital endeavour.

Thank you.

UNFPA Press Release, 29 May 2015, Census Results Highlight Myanmar’s Development Needs

NAY PYI TAW—A comprehensive profile of Myanmar’s 51.5 million people and how
they live is available for the first time in three decades, after today’s release of the
2014 Population and Housing Census main results.
They include detailed data on population size and growth, age and sex, marital
status, migration, births and deaths, education, employment, disability, housing
conditions and amenities in each state and region, district and township. Planners at
all levels can use these to identify gaps and pinpoint needs for infrastructure and
social services.
President U Thein Sein opened the launch event in the capital city. Over 1,000 guests
attended, including chief ministers from all of the country’s 15 states and regions,
ethnic and religious leaders, international donors, and representatives of UN
agencies, international NGOs, civil society organizations and the private sector.
Vijay Nambiar, the UN Special Adviser for Myanmar, hailed the census as a
“monumental achievement” that will benefit both the country’s development and its
democratic process, despite challenges that need to be addressed.
A statement delivered on behalf of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, said the results could help the
Government and civil society “address disparities and inequalities across and within
Myanmar society”.
Both speeches cited the unprecedented scale of the census exercise, organized by
the Ministry of Immigration and Population with technical guidance from UNFPA
and financial support from international donors. In just two weeks, over 100,000
enumerators visited nearly 11 million households, reaching nearly 98 per cent of
the population.
They also noted that in Rakhine state, over 1 million people were not included, amid
ongoing communal tensions and the demand of many to self‐identify as Rohingya,
which the authorities did not allow, despite UNFPA’s advice. Other national surveys
under way or planned will help to fill some of the resulting data gaps.
The reported total population of 51.5 million includes estimates for areas not
enumerated in Rakhine, Kachin and Kayin states, a total of 1.2 million people.
(Full texts of the remarks by Mr. Nambiar and Dr. Osotimehin are online at
http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/myanmar/2015/05/28/12206/nambiar/ and
http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/myanmar/2015/05/28/12205/osotimehin/.)
The census results reported in today’s launch show both progress since the last
census in 1983 and ongoing challenges, including regional disparities and social
indicators that lag behind Myanmar’s neighbours. Highlights include:
 Population growth, 0.89 per cent per year, is less than half the 1970s rate and
slowing.
 There are only 93 males for every 100 females, reflecting significantly lower
male life expectancy and higher migration by men.
 Half the population is under age 27, but the proportion of children has
started to fall.
 The average number of children per woman has declined to 2.3 from 4.7 in
1983.
 Life expectancy at birth, 66.8 years, has improved but is still one of the
lowest in South‐East Asia. Life expectancy is six years longer for females than
males.
 Infant and under‐5 mortality rates are high nationwide (62 and 72 per
100,000 live births, respectively), and nearly twice as high in some states as
in others.
 Almost 90 per cent of adults are literate, but in Shan state only 63 per cent
are.
 85 per cent of adult males and 50 per cent of females are in the workforce;
unemployment is 4 per cent, and nearly twice as high for those 15‐29.
 Only a third of households have electric lights and a third have mobile
phones, but half have televisions.
 Over 70 per cent of homes have improved water and sanitation, but far fewer
do in some states.
Additional results that require more time for analysis and consultation—on
ethnicity, religion, occupation and maternal mortality—are scheduled for release
next year.
The census main results are available online at
http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/myanmar/2015/05/25/12157/myanmar_census_2
014/.
For more information, contact:
Yangon: Malene Arboe‐Rasmussen, arboe‐rasmussen@unfpa.org, +95 9 250 026
961
or Esther Bayliss, bayliss@unfpa.org, +95 9 260 991 218
Bangkok: Roy Wadia, wadia@unfpa.org, +66 2 687 0111 or +66 84 875 2634 mobile
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UNFPA: Delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and
every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
myanmar.unfpa.org

Press Statement: UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Myanmar and senior UN Representatives visit to Rakhine State, Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar – On 22 May a joint visit to Rakhine took place with Mr. Vijay Nambiar the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Ms. Renata Dessallien the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, and senior Representatives of the UN System in Myanmar. The visit was in the context of the ongoing “boat crisis” in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal as well as the UN’s ongoing focus on the humanitarian and development situation in Rakhine State.
The delegation met with the Chief Minister, Mr. Maung Maung Ohn, and other representatives from the State government, as well as undertook a visit to Ale Than Kyaw Village to inspect the situation of the disembarked migrants. The UN commended both the Union Government of Myanmar and Rakhine State Government for the important rescue of over 200 migrants in Myanmar waters on 21 May. Of these rescued migrants it is believed that 200 are young Bangladeshi males, 19 of whom were minors between 15-17 years of age. The migrants were taken ashore by the Myanmar Navy, and provided food, water, and temporary accommodation by the Myanmar government, local community, and Myanmar Red Cross Society, with support from the UN and INGOs.
Mr. Nambiar recognized that the rescue had been undertaken with great seriousness and irrespective of the nationality of the stranded migrants. The Myanmar government was urged to continue the search and rescue operations as there are believed to be many more migrants still stranded at sea. Both sides discussed the seriousness of the situation of migrant smuggling, human trafficking and irregular migration affecting both Myanmar and the broader region. They agreed on the need for concerted action against the brokers and criminal syndicates involved in perpetrating such activities throughout the region. The UN has offered support to the government of Myanmar to address these issues and both sides agreed of the importance of tackling these challenges both nationally but also at the regional level. The UN therefore welcomed the confirmation that the Government of Myanmar will participate in the Regional Meeting to be held in Bangkok on 29th May to discuss this issue and to identify areas for regional cooperation.
Inevitably, much media attention has been focused on the conditions in the countries of origin of these migrants as well as the root causes leading to people to undertake such dangerous journeys by sea. The UN recognizes and appreciates the recent improvements in the conditions in Rakhine, including efforts to improve the situation of the IDPs. The Government has started to enable IDPs to return to their places of origin and is assisting with livelihood enhancement, health and education. The Government is requesting the UN and international community for assistance to help scale up the ongoing improvements, both for the IDPs and for all people of Rakhine State.
Notwithstanding these welcome improvements, more work needs to be done to address the daily issues of discrimination, restricted freedom of movement, and deprivation of fundamental rights faced by the IDPs and other Muslim populations. The UN Delegation emphasized that the citizenship process and legal status, in particular, need urgent and comprehensive solutions, not only in Rakhine State, but also for other groups in Myanmar. The UN reiterated that efforts to address these rights need to be combined with concerted measures to urgently ramp up development initiatives for all communities of Rakhine State so that the critical challenges facing the state of extreme poverty, deprivation and exclusion are tackled through a comprehensive approach.

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