UN humanitarian chief asks donor community in Myanmar for immediate support

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 07 Dec 2012

(Yangon/New York, 7 December 2012): On the fourth and final day of her mission to Myanmar, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, briefed the donor community on the conditions of camps in Rakhine State and asked for their immediate support.

“We have to improve the situation. The reality is that people are living in overcrowded conditions with appalling sanitation and limited access to water, and an increasing risk of disease outbreaks the longer this goes on. But there are concrete and immediate things we can do to help,” Ms. Amos told donors.

Some 115,000 people are displaced in Rakhine State as a result of inter-communal violence that broke out in June and October this year. Thousands of people have been living in camps on the outskirts of their villages or towns for many months and, in the absence of a tangible reconciliation process, it is unknown how long they will have to stay there.

Ms. Amos described the conditions at one camp in Myebon as one of the worst camps she has seen in the world. “I have seen many camps during my time as the ERC but the conditions in this camp rank among the worst,” she said.

Valerie Amos told the donors that the international community has a responsibility to help people where they are but at the same time it needs to maintain pressure on the Government to develop longer-term plans that include reconciliation efforts and address the long-standing issue of citizenship.

During a briefing to local media, Ms. Amos reiterated her call that the Government needed to start the reconciliation process as soon as possible.

“The longer it takes for discussions to start, the harder it is, as tensions become ingrained. Reconciliation can take years, sometimes generations, but it is the only solution,” said Ms. Amos, adding that the media have a special role. “We all have a role to play, including Myanmar’s media, who need to do more to promote reconciliation and highlight some of the positive examples of communities working or living side by side in Rakhine.”

In concluding her visit to Myanmar, USG Amos acknowledged the positive work of the Government in its democratic reforms and said that she believed the future for Myanmar was one of hope

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