Vice President U Henry Van Thio: Government ‘deeply concerned’ about Rakhine

Vice President U Henry Van Thio addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., on 20 September 2017. REUTERS

Vice President U Henry Van Thio told the U.N. General Assembly yesterday that the situation in western Rakhine state is improving, but remains a serious concern for the government.
“Let me be clear, the government of Myanmar is deeply concerned about the present situation in Rakhine,” U Henry Van Thio said. “There is no denying that this is a problem of significant magnitude.”
He also said the government is concerned by reports that the number of Muslims crossing into Bangladesh continues unabated.
“We would need to find out the reason for this exodus,” U Henry Van Thio told world leaders at their annual gathering in New York City. He claimed that “the great majority of the Muslim population” has remained in their villages and said there have been no armed clashes reported since 5 September.
Since the deadly attacks on dozens of police posts and civilians by ARSA extremist terrorists on 25 August, hundreds of thousands of Muslims fled to Bangladesh and thousands of ethnic minorities went to camps, army installations and monasteries for shelter in Sittway, Maungtaw and Buthidaung.
“At present, humanitarian assistance is our first priority,” the vice president said.
U Henry Van Thio also acknowledged that longstanding prejudices have contributed to tensions.
“Deep levels of distrust, developed over the decades, have to be slowly chiseled away”, he told the UN General Assembly yesterday.
In the military response to terrorist attacks last month by ARSA extremist terrorists, about 400 people have been killed, according to the Union government.
Security forces have been instructed to strictly adhere to the Code of Conduct in carrying out security operations, to exercise all due restraint, and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage and the harming of innocent civilians.
He said human rights violations would be dealt with “in accordance with strict norms of justice.” U Henry Van Thio began his speech before the UN General Assembly yesterday by offering words of sympathy to Mexico, the United States, and Puerto Rico, all of which have been struck recently by natural disasters.
“The intensity and frequency of such natural disasters are evidence of climate change. Climate change is now becoming a reality posing a serious threat to our planet. The impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Myanmar is one of those countries that is highly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. As a country frequently affected by storms, floods and droughts, Myanmar welcomes the Paris Agreement on Climate Change”, U Henry Van Thio said. —GNLM

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