Statement of the United Nations Country Team in Myanmar on the occasion of UN Day

News and Press Release
Originally published
Yangon, 24 October 2007: Today marks United Nations Day. It is a day on which we should reflect on the importance of achieving development, prosperity, peace, security and dignity for all. All people of the world deserve to have these fundamental rights and freedoms fulfilled.

In Myanmar, the peaceful demonstrations that followed the sudden hike in fuel prices on 15 August highlighted that many of these aspirations are not yet a reality for the people here. The events clearly demonstrated the everyday struggle to meet basic needs, and the urgent necessity to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country. These are the same messages that the United Nations Country Team in Myanmar has been endeavouring to bring to the Government's attention for some time.

The United Nations Country Team reiterates the calls for action made at the most senior levels of the UN system including the Secretary General, the Special Envoy of the Secretary General Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Human Rights Council resolution of 2 October, and the Security Council. The 11 October Security Council Presidential statement, reflecting the unanimous views of its members, called on the "Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to address the political, economic, humanitarian, and human rights issues that are the concern of its people and emphasizes that the future of Myanmar lies in the hands of all of its people."

The UN system in Myanmar also fully supports the 18 October Joint Statement made by thirteen international non-governmental organizations currently working in Myanmar, expressing concern about the humanitarian situation in Myanmar. We echo their appeals for greater public expenditures in social sectors, an improved operating environment for international humanitarian organizations, and a significant scaling up of international assistance to address the needs of the poor.

While acknowledging the efforts made by the Government of Myanmar to build schools, clinics, hospitals and roads, the UN system in Myanmar nevertheless sees every day that in this potentially prosperous country basic human needs are not being met. Today, Myanmar's estimated per capita GDP is less than half of that of Cambodia or Bangladesh. The average household is forced to spend almost three quarters of its budget on food. One in three children under five are suffering from malnutrition, and less than 50% of children are able to complete their primary education. It is estimated that close to seven hundred thousand people each year suffer from malaria and one hundred and thirty thousand from tuberculosis. Among those infected with HIV, an estimated sixty thousand people needing anti-retrovirals do not yet have access to this life-saving treatment.

The United Nations agencies working in Myanmar repeat their strong determination to help the country address poverty and suffering, and their underlying causes.

The concerns of the people have been clearly expressed through the recent peaceful demonstrations, and it is beholden on all to listen.