UN humanitarian chief calls for a concerted effort towards reconciliation in Rakhine, Myanmar

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 05 Dec 2012

(Yangon/New York, 5 December 2012): The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, today visited several different communities across Rakhine State, who have lost almost everything due to inter-communal violence.

The unrest, which started in June and then flared up again in October, has left some 115,000 people living in camps or with host families across Rakhine State. The level of assistance provided to people in the different camps varies significantly.

“I was very concerned by some of what I saw today. In Myebon I saw thousands of people in overcrowded, substandard shelter with poor sanitation. They don’t have jobs, children are not in school and they can’t leave the camp because their movement is restricted. The situation is dire,” said Ms. Amos.

During her visit Valerie Amos travelled with the Minister of Border Affairs, Lieutenant General Thein Htay, to Myebon, Pauktaw, Maungdaw and to a series of camps outside Sittwe, where more than 70,000 people live and where co-ordination between the Government and UN agencies has improved significantly.

“Tensions between the communities are still running very high. I was shocked to see so many soldiers everywhere keeping communities away from each other. People from both communities gave me the same message. They are living in fear and want to go back to living a normal life. There is an urgent need for reconciliation,” said Ms. Amos.

ERC Amos highlighted the security threats to humanitarian workers as a major challenge in providing assistance.

“The trust is not there. We need the political leaders in Myanmar to support the important humanitarian work being done by the United Nations and our partners. Local leaders need to speak out and explain that they have asked us to be here to help. Our job is to try to help everyone in need,” said Valerie Amos.

Ms. Amos said other challenges include a lack of partners on the ground and inadequate funding which is limiting the capacity to respond.

The humanitarian community in Myanmar recently revised its Rakhine Response Plan to address the needs of 115,000 displaced people for the next nine months, at a cost of some US$68 million. $41 million is still needed.

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