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Myanmar: Humanitarian Chief calls for more support

07 Dec 2012


Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos met community leaders at Kyein Ni Pyin camp in Pauktaw, Myanmar, on 5 December. Photo: OCHA/David Ohana.
People living in “appalling” conditions after inter-communal violence

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, called for more support for displaced people living in camps in Rakhine State, at the end of a four-day visit to Myanmar on Friday.

“We have to improve the situation,” Ms. Amos said. “The reality is that people are living in overcrowded conditions with appalling sanitation and limited access to water, and an increasing risk of disease outbreaks the longer this goes on. But there are concrete and immediate things we can do to help,” she added.

Some 115,000 people are displaced in Rakhine State as a result of inter-communal violence that broke out in June and October. Thousands of people have been living in camps on the outskirts of their villages or towns for months.

Ms. Amos met people from different communities during visits to eight camps in Rakhine on Wednesday. She said conditions in some of the camps were among the worst she had seen in the world.

“Children have been out of school for up to six months, the men are not able to provide for their families and there is a general sense of hopelessness,” she added.

The Under Secretary-General told donors that the international community has a responsibility both to help people where they are, and to maintain pressure on the Government to develop longer-term plans that address reconciliation between communities and citizenship.

She reiterated her call for the Government to start the reconciliation process as soon as possible.  

“The longer it takes for discussions to start, the harder it is, as tensions become ingrained,” she said. “Reconciliation can take years, sometimes generations, but it is the only solution.”

She also called for support across the board for humanitarian aid.

“We need the political leaders at all levels in Myanmar to support the important humanitarian work being done by the United Nations and our partners,” Ms. Amos said.