REFUGEE CRI­SIS – UNHCR High Com­mis­sioner dis­cusses how to deal with Myan­mar’s refugees and dis­placed peo­ple

UNHCR High Com­mis­sioner dis­cusses how to deal with Myan­mar’s refugees and dis­placed peo­ple

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

The UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, made his first visit to Myan­mar last week dur­ing which he made an ap­peal for in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to pro­tracted dis­place­ment and state­less­ness.Myan­mar, it can be ar­gued, has long been in the midst of a refugee cri­sis – both in terms of those who have fled fight­ing or op­pres­sion to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries or those who have had to flee their homes and are in­ter­nally dis­placed – IDPs.

Dur­ing his visit, Grandi trav­elled to Yan­gon, Nay Pyi Taw as well as Sit­twe and Maung­daw in Rakhine State. He met with Myan­mar’s State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi; the Min­is­ter of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment, Dr Min Myat Aye; the Min­is­ter of Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion, Thein Swe; and the Min­is­ter of Bor­der Af­fairs, Lt. Gen Ye Aung.

“I was very happy to hear the State Coun­sel­lor say­ing that refugees are wel­come back from Thai­land,” said the High Com­mis­sioner. “We agreed that re­turns must be vol­un­tary and sus­tain­able. Refugees should not come back to a sit­u­a­tion of de­pen­dency but of self-re­liance.”

They also dis­cussed hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess in Kachin and Rakhine states, where some 100,000 and 120,000 peo­ple re­spec­tively have been liv­ing for more than five years in camps for in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple.

While in Rakhine State, the High Com­mis­sioner met with dis­placed Mus­lims in Sit­twe’s Dar Paing camp, who ex­pressed their strong de­sire to re­turn home. He also reached out to Rakhine and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties north of Maung­daw and lis­tened to their safety and liveli­hood con­cerns.

“Th­ese are com­plex is­sues but they are not in­tractable,” said Grandi. “A cru­cial first step is to pur­sue free­dom of move­ment and ac­cess to ser­vices and liveli­hoods for all. Ac­cel­er­ated path­ways to cit­i­zen­ship are also part of the so­lu­tion, as are ef­forts to tackle ex­clu­sion and poverty.”

He high­lighted that the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion of Rakhine State pro­vide an im­por­tant roadmap for the way for­ward.

The High Com­mis­sioner then went on to visit Thai­land and Bangladesh to dis­cuss the refugee sit­u­a­tion in both coun­tries.

In ad­di­tion, he granted the ex­clu­sive in­ter­view to Mizzima that fol­lows.

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