TEMPO.CO, New York - ASEAN foreign ministers have issued Chairman’s Statement on Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, Myanmar. In a statement released on ASEAN website, the foreign ministers expressed their concerns over the recent development in Rakhine and urged all the parties involved to avoid actions that will further worsen the situation on the ground.
The decision to issue Chairman’s Statement was taken in a closed meeting held by ASEAN foreign ministers at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 23, on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly (UNGA).
“It’s a quite out of the ordinary because, in a regular informal meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA, we don’t usually issue Chairman’s Statement,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsuid said after the meeting.
In the statement, the Philippines condemns the attack launched by Myanmar authorities on August 25 and atrocities that killed civilians, damaged houses and displaced the Rohingya people.
“The Foreign Ministers also underscored the importance of increased humanitarian access to the affected areas and that assistance be given to all affected communities,” the statement said.
Aid supplies from ASEAN for the Rakhine State crisis will be distributed through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre). Retno said that in general, Myanmar has extended request for relief from AHA. “The focus is humanitarian relief first and foremost.”
ASEAN ministers have expressed Myanmar government’s commitment to ensuring civilian security in conflict areas, taking swift measures to end atrocities in Rakhine, normalizing social and economic conditions, and resolving Rohingya refugee issue.
For a smooth resolution of the refugee crisis, Myanmar is asked to hold dialogues with Bangladesh. “Last night, I was told that they have held talks,” Retno said.
The Rohingya crisis and Myanmar military operations have displaced 400,000 people, most of whom are Rohingya Muslims. They are in a harsh living conditions in refugee tents along the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh in Cox Bazaar.
In the long term, Foreign Minister Retno said, Myanmar is expected to fully implement the recommendations from the commission for Rakhine crisis led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Some 88 recommendations have been issued by the commission formed following a request from Myanmar leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi. One of which is a recommendation for Myanmar government to resolve citizenship issue of around one million Rohingya Muslims who are currently not recognized as citizens.