Myanmar: 1st press release of Tripartite Core Group

1 The Tripartite Core Group (TCG) was formed after the 19 May 2008 Special Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, and the 25 May 2008 ASEAN-United Nations International Pledging Conference in Yangon, Union of Myanmar. The aim of the TCG is to act as an ASEAN-led mechanism to facilitate trust, confidence and cooperation between Myanmar and the international community in the urgent humanitarian relief and recovery work after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar (2 to 3 May 2008).

2 The TCG comprises 3 members from the Myanmar Government: (Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Thu who is the Chairman, Acting Director-General, Ministry of Social Welfare and Resettlement U Aung Tun Khaing, and Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation U Than Aye), 3 members from ASEAN (Singapore's Ambassador to Myanmar Mr Robert H K Chua, Dr Puji Pujiono, a senior UNDP officer seconded to the ASEAN Secretariat, and Ms Adelina Kamal, Assistant Director of the ASEAN Secretariat) and 3 from the UN (UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mr Daniel Baker, UN Resident Coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli and a rotating UN agency Representative). The TCG started its work on 31 May 2008 and has been meeting at least once a week and sometimes more often, in a spirit of mutual understanding, trust and cooperation. It has been working closely with the National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee chaired by His Excellency Prime Minister General Thein Sein, Union of Myanmar. The TCG has successfully completed the following operational tasks:

(i) Fulfilling the commitment of His Excellency Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of State Peace and Development Council to His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, that visas for UN and foreign aid workers would be given and their access to cyclone-affected areas would be allowed. Requests for visas, visa extensions and permits to travel are now channeled through the TCG for rapid facilitation.

(ii) Since 2 June 2008, the entry and deployment in Yangon and Ayeyarwady Divisions of the 10 commercial helicopters contracted by the World Food Programme. These helicopters played a key role in the deployment of the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment Teams in the Ayeyawardy Division (Delta) from 11 to 20 June 2008. They are now flying daily flights to provide humanitarian relief supplies in the cyclone-affected areas.

(iii) The successful completion of the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) Teams in Ayeyarwady Division (Delta) and Yangon Division from 11 June to 20 June 2008. 350 officials and volunteers from the Myanmar Government, ASEAN and UN supported by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and both local and international NGOs were trained from 2 to 3 June 2008 in the established data gathering templates of the Village Tract Assessment (VTA) used by the UN, and the Damage and Loss Assessment (DaLA) used by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. 85 DaLA members, and 245 VTA members, supported by 20 members in the coordinating office in Yangon were subsequently deployed. Advance teams were sent to Labutta and Pyapon, two severely affected townships in the Ayeyawardy Division (Delta) to test the assessment questionnaires from 4 June to 7 June 2008. The data collected by the PONJA teams from 380 villages will lead to a credible and independent damage assessment report, as mandated by the 25 May 2008 ASEAN-United Nations International Pledging Conference in Yangon. This will allow donors to fulfill their pledge commitments to the cyclone victims and help in the recovery and reconstruction. The PONJA report will be published in Yangon and submitted to the ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting (20-21 July 2008) in Singapore. It will also provide inputs to the UN's revised Humanitarian Flash Appeal in July 2008 in New York for post-Nargis emergency and early recovery efforts.

3 The TCG, representing the Myanmar Government, ASEAN and the UN, continues to work in a spirit of mutual understanding, trust and cooperation to address pressing issues such as the implementation of the new Guiding Principles on the work of the UN and INGOs, and the continuing work of post-Nargis relief, recovery and reconstruction.

Issued in Yangon, Myanmar