High Commissioner Guterres in Thailand/Myanmar mission

Briefing Notes, 13 July 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 13 July 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is currently in Bangkok, and earlier today met Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. A common understanding was established to guarantee the voluntariness of returns of Myanmarese refugees living in camps in Thailand, making sure that returns take place in safety and dignity, and that all parties will work together for security, economic and social conditions to be created on the ground to make returns successful and sustainable.

High Guterres ended a two-day mission to Myanmar yesterday, where he reiterated UNHCR's commitment to delivering humanitarian assistance to both populations in Rakhine State Rakhine and Muslim without any discrimination. We believe that this can be a factor for reconciliation between communities and we hope that a situation will be established in Rakhine State with the rule of law prevailing and a human rights-based approach.

The High Commissioner expressed to the president and the government of Myanmar his hope that, independently of possible improvements in the nationality law, nationality should be granted to the members of the Muslim community who are entitled to have it according to the present legislation. And others should receive a legal status that would grant them the rights required to develop a normal life in the country.

In his meeting with the president of Myanmar and other authorities, the High Commissioner stressed UNHCR's commitment to support all efforts for peace-building in the southeast, mainly through assistance to displaced people. We are ready to help prepare for returns, which should be voluntary and carried out in safety and dignity, both of those displaced within the country and from the nine refugee camps in Thailand.

Mr. Guterres is travelling onwards to Ethiopia this weekend for the African Union summit, and for a field mission on Monday to see the conditions for refugees from Sudan's Blue Nile State currently in Ethiopia's Assosa region.

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