Dr. Win Myat Aye, the Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, reiterated to the world refugee body yesterday that there was no discrimination in providing humanitarian aid to refugees in northern Rakhine State affected by the recent terrorist attacks.
He made the remarks in his speech at the 68th Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR held in Geneva, Switzerland from 2nd October to 6th October, also pledging that the country would systematically repatriate those who fled to Bangladesh.
“It will be conducted according to the Myanmar-Bangladesh 1993 agreement on repatriating refugees. While welcoming fair cooperation, best endeavour will be made toward providing education, health and other necessary aid (to the refugees),” said the Union Minister.
At the opening ceremony held on Monday with Ms. Rosemary McCarney, the Canadian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, presiding over the meeting, Mr Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees made an opening address.
Afterwards, ministers and deputy ministers from the countries represented at the meeting and high ranking officials made speeches on general principles and matters on refugees to collectively find solutions.
In his address, Dr Win Myat Aye said, “Myanmar is a country in its nascent stage of democratic transition. The incumbent government is making concerted efforts for national peace and development.
National reconciliation is also the task to be performed as a priority. In implementing the tasks of socio-economic development, less-developed regions and states are being prioritised. Now I would like to discuss the situation in Rakhine State being presently of interest by international countries. Since prior to the events of the extremist terrorists’ attacks, a committee was formed for performing the tasks toward Rakhine State peace and development. Moreover, the advisory commission on Rakhine State led by Mr. Kofi Annan was formed to find solutions for the controversial conflicts between Rakhine nationals and Muslims living in the region. During this period, ARSA extremist terrorist attacks took place on August 25. Due to those terrorist attacks, 30 security outposts were attacked, in which many security forces were killed, with others severely wounded. And local residents of Hindu origin and Rakhine national minority groups sparsely populated in the region were killed and displaced.”
The Union Minister added, “In launching the operations against these terrorist attacks, security forces paid special attention for innocent people not to be harmed. Simultaneously, tasks of providing humanitarian aid to the victimized people were carried out. Controversial conflicts happening currently in Rakhine State got involved with various kinds of matters. In providing humanitarian aid, security and freedom are to be considered. Negotiations with internationally aligned countries were made on 4 September at the Ministry of the State Counsellor’s Office for effective and fair provision to victims. At the meeting, Ambassadors from the USA, the UK and Denmark, in-charges of Australia and EU countries, the UN regional representative, representatives of the Myanmar Red Cross Society, IFRC and ICRC took part. From 5 September on, clearance operations came to an end. Programmes are underway to perform the tasks of long-lasting peace, unity and development. The Office of the President of the State formed a committee to implement the suggestions and recommendations of the advisory commission and investigation commission on Rakhine State. I myself chaired the committee while the Chief Minister of Rakhine State co-chaired and Deputy Ministers and Permanent Secretaries of respective ministries taking part as members. The tasks are commencing to be performed.”
While attending the meeting, the Union Minister met with Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Mr. Filippo Grandi, a delegation led by United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Mr. Simon Henshaw, a delegation led by UNHCR director Mr. Indrika Ratwatte, and a delegation led by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) director Mr. Dominik Stillhart. The Union Minister explained security matters, the progress of Rakhine State affairs, the repatriation of refugees, resettling matters, working with the Red Cross Movement in providing humanitarian assistance, drawing up a master plan for Rakhine State development, matters in which international business companies can participate in implementing development programmes, cooperation with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre). He expressed his desire for cooperation based on fairness and urged them to observe the situation realistically instead of being critical of the people’s government.
The Union Minister and party were informed by officials in the office of UNHCR on 4 October of the background history and current works in providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, the reintegration and repatriation to their places of origin, and the strengths, weaknesses and challenges faced. The Union Minister and party commented on the discussions of the present Rakhine State situation in Myanmar and repatriation of refugees in Thailand.
At noon, a luncheon hosted by UNHCR was attended where informal meetings with representatives from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were held.
Yesterday at noon, the Union Minister attended the preparation for the 69th Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR, confirming the outcome of the meeting, decisions and the closing ceremony.
During the trip, the Union Minister explained the incidents in Rakhine State with supporting facts and video files. These facts and files were distributed to attendees, it is learnt.