UN Assistant High Commissioner calls for humanitarian access and safe, voluntary repatriation of refugees during Myanmar visit
YANGON, Myanmar, 2 November, 2017 – The United Nations Assistant High Commissioner (Protection), Mr. Volker Türk, concluded on Wednesday a two-day visit to Myanmar, during which he called for unrestricted humanitarian access for communities in need, and for the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity.
Türk travelled to the capital Naypyitaw where he met with Myanmar’s Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint Swe, National Security Advisor U Thaung Tun, Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye, and Minister of Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe.
During his meetings, the Assistant High Commissioner urged the government to ensure a safe environment and the protection of all communities in Rakhine State. He also called for unrestricted access so that humanitarian actors can provide life-saving aid and build confidence among communities in need. Türk reiterated the right of return of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled from Rakhine State to Bangladesh; and he appealed for their safe, voluntary, and sustainable repatriation to their places of origin.
The Assistant High Commissioner also emphasized the importance of the robust engagement of development stakeholders to invest in community-based programmes in Rakhine State that create conditions that enable sustainable reintegration of refugees.
Türk welcomed the government’s initiative to hold a joint workshop with UNHCR on the international standards guiding voluntary repatriation on October 31. The Assistant High Commissioner reaffirmed that UNHCR stands ready to support the government and said he hoped that the workshop would be a step toward involving the UN Refugee Agency in the government’s plans for voluntary repatriation.
Türk further welcomed the renewed commitment of the government to rapidly implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission of Rakhine State and highlighted that they provide an important roadmap for the way forward.
The Assistant High Commissioner for Protection’s regional visit will continue in Thailand and conclude in Bangladesh early next week.
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