Naypyitaw, May 15 (IANS) The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator on Wednesday urged Myanmar authorities to guarantee access for humanitarian assistance and to find solutions for the 270,000 people displaced due to conflicts in their regions.
Ursula Mueller emphasized the rights of those displaced to return voluntarily to their homes, “in safety and in dignity, or resettle to another place of their choosing”, in a statement on Twitter released after she concluded a six-day visit to Myanmar.
The mission included a visit to Rakhine state in western Myanmar, where some 700,000 people need humanitarian assistance, including 128,000 of the Rohingya and Kaman minorities living in camps since 2012 after sectarian violence broke out with the Buddhist-majority Rakhine inhabitants, Efe news reported.
The UN envoy said that “we must do more together to address the root causes of displacement and vulnerability” of the Rohingya, a minority community whose citizenship the Myanmar authorities do not recognize.
“It is critical that the strategy be implemented in a way that addresses the root causes of displacement. The closure of camps must be linked to improvements in freedom of movement and access to services and job opportunities,” Muller said.
“Muslim people living outside of camps, whose freedom of movement and ability to access health and education is severely restricted, are facing extremely difficult circumstances,” she added.
Myanmar’s military offensive in Rakhine, which was condemned worldwide for its human rights abuses, was described as “ethnic cleansing” by the UN and led to the exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Mueller also expressed concerns over the rise in violence between the Arakan Army — a guerrilla group of the minority Rakhine — and the Myanmar Army which has led to over 30,000 people being displaced in the last six months.
She praised the humanitarian assistance operations by local and international organizations to assist more than 200,000 people.
During her visit, Mueller met Myanmar’s Social Welfare Minister Win Myat Aye and de facto leader of the government Aung San Suu Kyi with whom she said she exchanged views to improve the cooperation of aid for those who need it most.