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UN envoy reaffirms commitment to assist Myanmar in reconciliation efforts

26 July 2012 – The United Nations top envoy for Myanmar today reiterated his commitment to assist the country in its national reconciliation and reform efforts, in the wake of the deadly violence which took place in the state of Rakhine last month.

“The United Nations is committed to assisting Myanmar and its people in their reform and national reconciliation efforts, including overcoming imminent challenges,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, in a statement. “In this spirit, the United Nations has been working to help assist many of the victims of the recent violence in Rakhine state, regardless of their religion or ethnicity.”

Last month, serious disturbances in Rakhine state, located in the country’s west, led to the Government declaring a state of emergency there. According to reports, the violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed, while internally displacing some 30,000 people.

The UN also temporarily relocated, on a voluntary basis, some of its staff based in the towns of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, as well as Rakhine state’s capital, Sittwe. Mr. Nambiar visited a few days after the violence, leading a humanitarian team to some of the localities that were most affected and later calling for an investigation into the events that took place.

In his statement, Mr. Nambiar also said he had conveyed the personal concerns of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with the UN’s expectations, directly to President Thein Sein. He noted that the President’s statements on the issue recognize the risk that the situation in Rakhine state poses for the broader reform process underway in Myanmar.

“While the response by the Government thus far has been prompt and calibrated, and while the President has stressed the need to handle the matter with sensitivity, I have, during the past days, called on the authorities, publicly and privately, to make an independent and transparent investigation of these tragic events,” Mr. Nambiar said.

“Such action should establish accountability as well as the prevalence of the rule of law. It should also address the underlying causes of the violence, including with regard to the condition of the Muslim community in Rakhine as an integral part of the national reconciliation process,” he added.

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