News

  • Dear friends and colleagues, I’m writing to wish you Happy Thingyan and auspicious entrance to Myanmar Era 1381. We have had a challenging year, but we managed to keep the focus on our objectives: • Maintain the momentum for the country’s peace, economic and democratic transitions for the benefit of all people; • Save lives by gaining greater humanitarian access; • Support sustainable solutions for Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States; and, • Engage in human rights advocacy. In some ways, the past year was transformational. The Secretary-General appointed the Special Envoy on Myanmar; the Human Rights Council passed a resolution to establish an Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar; and, we have substantially expanded our presence in Naypyidaw where more than 100 staff reside now, including the WFP and UNDP senior managers. We produced the new Humanitarian Response Plan calling for US$202 million to assist approximately 941,000 vulnerable, crisis-affected people. With the support of the Country Task Force for Reporting and Monitoring, the Tatmadaw released more than 100 children and young people. We signed a series of agreements with Japan on implementation of more than US$50 million in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States. We finalized the Rakhine Strategic Cooperation Framework. UNHCR, UNDP and the Government signed an MoU on creating conditions conducive for the return of refugees who fled to Bangladesh. UNHCR and UNDP jointly carried out over 120 focus group discussions with over 1,400 community members in some 60 locations under the MoU.

  • Your Excellency Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Professor Walter Kälin, Distinguished Participants, Colleagues, Friends, Thank you for holding the important Third Workshop on durable solutions for IDPs and the National Strategy on Closure of IDP camps. Allow me please to open with commending you for the draft National Strategy which is taking a shape of a guiding document for actions that will help design and implement durable solutions for the IDPs in Myanmar. I would especially like to recognize the contribution of His Excellency Union Minister Win Myat Aye for his leadership in drafting the Strategy. We welcome the engagement of various stakeholders, including the United Nations, international NGOs, Embassies, as well as national civil society. Each of us can support the Government in developing and realizing durable solutions for the IDPs in our respective mandates and areas of expertise. Turning now to the draft National Strategy: We welcome the strategy’s objectives to restore normal lives for the IDPs, in safety, dignity, with rights and access to services, such as education, health, and livelihood.

  • Honorable Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Honorable Ambassador of the Norway, Ambassador New Zealand Representatives of Embassies and donors Representatives of UN agencies, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations Survivors of landmine and other explosive devices that are here today Representatives from the Media Ladies and Gentlemen Mingalar ba and Good morning! • I am honoured to address this distinguished audience on the occasion of International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, that was declared by the UN General Assembly on 4th April 2006. On this day every year, events are planned around the world to raise awareness about landmines and progress toward their eradication. • This day is an opportunity for all of us here to remind ourselves that landmines and Explosive Remnants of War continue to pose threats. Their eradication requires financial and political commitment. • Challenges of landmine and other explosive remnants of war remain in many countries, including in Myanmar. As recently as the 30th March, three people including two children lost their life and four others were seriously injured as a result of a mine explosion in Namtu, Northern Shan State.

  • Mingalar ba and good morning! • First let me say how delighted I am to be here today to see firsthand the release of 32 children and young people. • In June 2012, the Myanmar Armed Forces committed to end the recruitment and use of children in their ranks by signing a Joint Action Plan with the United Nations. Since then, the collaboration has been remarkable. • At least 924 children and young people have been released. Seven hundred and twenty-six (726) of them have been provided with reintegration support within the framework of the Joint Action Plan. • Today’s release is another encouraging step by the Government towards ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children within the Tatmadaw.

  • The Acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Knut Ostby is deeply concerned about new reports of fighting between the Arakan Army and Myanmar security forces which continue to cause civilian casualties and displacement of communities in Rakhine State. Mr. Ostby urges all sides of the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians, resolve differences through peaceful means, uphold their responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law, including the preservation of sites of cultural heritage. Mr. Ostby calls for effective humanitarian access to populations in need of aid, particularly the children, women, elderly and other affected people. The United Nations is in contact with the Myanmar authorities and stands ready to continue with the humanitarian support to the affected civilian populations.

  • 20 March: High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet presented her report on human rights situation of Rohingya: “Systematic discrimination and pervasive restrictions on freedom of movement continue to severely damage the human rights and fundamental freedoms of members of the Rohingya community.” 19 March: the Acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator issued a statement expressing a concern about new reports of fighting between the Arakan Army and Myanmar security forces. “Mr. Ostby urges all sides of the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians, resolve differences through peaceful means, uphold their responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law, including the preservation of sites of cultural heritage.” 15 March: Secretary-General’s spokesperson commented on situation in Rakhine State: “the situation there is deeply concerning, with continued and spreading fighting between the Myanmar security forces and the Arakan Army. We condemn attacks against security personnel and express our sympathy for the victims and their families.” 11 March: Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee delivers a statement to the Human Rights Council: “the situation in Myanmar must be referred to the ICC by the Security Council.”

  • Investing in women is the most effective way to lift families, communities, businesses, and countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economic growth more sustainable. Empowering women will benefit us all. As the women’s rights movement is making significant advances around the world, we in Myanmar also “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change,” as is suggested in the theme of the 2019 International Women’s Day. Today, we celebrate women in Myanmar as industry leaders, social entrepreneurs, activists, scientists, artists and innovators. We also acknowledge the remarkable strength of the women who have been displaced and the survivors of gender-based violence for their resilience as they continue to contribute to their family, community and the country. On this occasion, we are also looking at how we can support the Government of the Union of Myanmar in creating conditions for women to increase their impact on the ongoing transitions from conflict to peace, from military rule to democratic governance, and from a closed to a liberalized economy.

  • Your Excellencies, Representatives of the Union Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and Union Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colleagues, Friends, It is an honor to participate in this signing and exchange of notes ceremony which builds on agreements signed a year ago, on 22 February 2018. Allow me to thank Government of the Union of Myanmar and specifically Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement His Excellency Dr. Win Myat Aye for leadership and partnership throughout this process. We look forward to continued strong leadership and partnership from the Government in the new phase of the programme. In 2018, we signed agreements totaling US$20 million that aimed to reach half a million people in Rakhine. This year, eight agencies – IOM, UN-Habitat, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN Women, and WFP will receive will receive funding from agreements totaling US$37 million for humanitarian operations in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan, and development initiatives in Rakhine State. I thank the people and the Government of Japan for their continued support to allow the UN to respond to meeting the needs of vulnerable communities in the three states.I would like to recognize the indispensable role of His Excellency Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, who led the efforts to forge this partnership that merges the strengths of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Thank you also to His Excellency Mr. Ichiro Maruyama, Ambassador of Japan to Myanmar, for his tireless support to make this partnership happen. The Ambassador has always emphasized that the objective of this partnership is to benefit all communities in need.

  • Nay Pyi Taw, 26 February 2019 - The Government of Japan and eight United Nations Agencies today signed a US$ 37 million value agreement to implement humanitarian and development projects in Shan, Kachin and Rakhine States. The funding will enable the delivery of life-saving assistance, protection, trust-building initiatives and early recovery support to women, men, girls and boys across the three states. This important partnership builds on a US$ 20 million agreement that was signed in 2018, that aimed to assist half a million people in Rakhine State. “I thank the Government and people of Japan for their continued support to respond to immediate humanitarian needs and address the long-term development prospects in Rakhine as well as Kachin and Shan States,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim Knut Ostby. “The UN agencies signing today appreciate the continued confidence of our partners that enable us to add urgently needed support for humanitarian activities in Kachin and northern Shan States to the ongoing humanitarian and development initiatives in Rakhine State.” The agreements were signed by His Excellency Mr. Ichiro Maruyama, Ambassador of Japan to Myanmar and representatives of the participating UN Agencies. UN bodies that receive contribution under the agreements include the International Organization on Migration (IOM), UN-Habitat, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women, and the World Food Programme (WFP).

  • Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the launch of the 2018 Opium Survey and thank you to colleagues at UNODC for producing the important report. The challenge of drug abuse is among the most complex problems we face worldwide. Opium and heroin deteriorate health and well-being, destroy families and communities, and prevent sustainable development. They are interconnected with corruption, organized crime, violence, and illicit flows of money. Illicit drug trade is a critical, transnational problem that demands a national and global response. I commend the Government of Myanmar for taking effective actions. The 2018 Myanmar Opium Survey found that opium poppy cultivation area in Shan and Kachin – the main production centers – reduced by 12 percent from 2017. This trend needs to be recognized. At the same time, Myanmar remains the second largest opium producer in the world. The drug problem affects the prospect of Myanmar’s ambitious peace, political and economic transitions.

  • The Acting Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, Knut Ostby, is deeply concerned about the situation in northern and central Rakhine State, where an estimated 4,500 people have been displaced so far due to fighting between the Arakan Army and Myanmar’s security forces. Mr. Ostby was shocked by the reports of attacks on 4 January, regrets the loss of life and offers his deepest sympathies to the families of the police officers who were killed. The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator urges all sides to ensure the protection of all civilians and uphold their responsibilities under International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law. Mr. Ostby further appeals to all sides to intensify efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation and to ensure humanitarian access to all people affected by the violence. The United Nations has been in close contact with the Myanmar authorities in recent weeks and has offered to support ongoing efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of those affected by the violence.

  • Dear fellow citizens of the world, I wish you a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year. Last New Year, I issued a red alert, and the dangers I mentioned still persist. These are anxious times for many, and our world is undergoing a stress test. Climate change is running faster than we are. Geo-political divisions are deepening, making conflicts more difficult to resolve. And record numbers of people are moving in search of safety and protection. Inequality is growing. And people are questioning a world in which a handful of people hold the same wealth as half of humanity. Intolerance is on the rise. Trust is on the decline. But there are also reasons for hope. The talks on Yemen have created a chance for peace. The agreement signed in Riyadh in September between Ethiopia and Eritrea has eased long-running tensions and brought improved prospects to an entire region. And the agreement between the parties to the conflict in South Sudan has revitalized chances for peace, bringing more progress in the past four months than in the previous four years.

  • UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. Andrew Kirkwood welcomes the announcement by the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services of a ceasefire from 21 December 2018 to 30 April 2019 with the goal of enabling peace talks and national reconciliation with all Ethnic Armed Organizations, including non-signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. expresses hope that this step will provide a new impetus to Myanmar’s peace process and effectively bring an end to fighting between the Tatmadaw and Ethnic Armed Organizations during this period and beyond. The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. encourages all actors to take advantage of this moment to cease hostilities and further efforts to find peace. The UN reaffirms its deep commitment to supporting the Myanmar peace process.

  • Ministers, Chairperson of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, Representative of the Myanmar National Committee for Women’s affairs, Representative of the Myanmar Press Council (members of the diplomatic community), ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I want to thank the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, in particular Chairperson U Win Mra for inviting me to this important event. Before making some more personal remarks, I would like to take the opportunity to read the message from the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights Day: “For 70 years, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been a global beacon – shining a light for dignity, equality and well-being … and bringing hope to dark places. The rights proclaimed in the Declaration apply to everyone -- no matter our race, belief, location or other distinction of any kind.

  • Excellencies, Chairperson of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, U Win Mra, ladies and gentlemen, Thank you all for joining us today. Thank you to Goethe Institute and partners who have organized this event. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago was a pivotal moment in modern history. The Declaration proclaimed, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It stated that human rights apply to everyone, everywhere. As the UN Secretary-General said, it brought hope to dark places. But, we can’t take human rights for granted. People are being denied rights in different parts of the world. We are therefore standing up today for human rights for everyone, everywhere, including in Myanmar.

  • Your excellency, Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, U Win Myat Aye, Dignitaries, Distinguished Participants, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am pleased to be here today and deliver opening remarks at this inter-ministerial meeting organized by the Government of Myanmar and the Committee for the Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State. I would like to recognize the Government and the Committee for its commitment to prioritize the recommendations and commend them for their leadership in their implementation. The world recognizes it is a tremendous task. Yesterday, the Myanmar Times reported that His Excellency Union Minister Win Myat Aye “urged the public’s help in implementing the recommendations.” Allow me to assure you that we stand ready to support you. When we last met on 13 August, I said in my opening remarks that “we are prepared to redouble our efforts” in supporting the government to implement the recommendations.

  • Your excellency, Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, U Win Myat Aye, Dignitaries, Distinguished Participants, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am pleased to be here today and deliver opening remarks at this inter-ministerial meeting organized by the Government of Myanmar and the Committee for the Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State. I would like to recognize the Government and the Committee for its commitment to prioritize the recommendations and commend them for their leadership in their implementation. The world recognizes it is a tremendous task. Yesterday, the Myanmar Times reported that His Excellency Union Minister Win Myat Aye “urged the public’s help in implementing the recommendations.” Allow me to assure you that we stand ready to support you. When we last met on 13 August, I said in my opening remarks that “we are prepared to redouble our efforts” in supporting the government to implement the recommendations. Our commitment to work with you is as strong as ever. This is documented by the numerous statements for their implementation, including by the UN Secretary-General.

  • Dear colleagues, We marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and launched the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence on Sunday 25 November. In line with the theme of this year’s campaign “Orange the World: #HearMeToo” our first event saw Yangon City Hall lit up in orange in partnership with the Deputy Mayor of Yangon Region, Daw Hlaing Maw Oo, on 25 November. On Monday 26 November, we participated in a government-organised, high-level meeting marking the start of the 16 Days of Activism campaign in Nay Pyi Daw. Events aiming to honour the voices of survivors and grassroots activists are taking place all over the world as gender inequality and violence against women and girls are among the most pressing challenges of our time. Globally, one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. We must end the culture of silencing and put survivors at the centre of our responses. The issues of gender inequality, discrimination and gender-based violence are significant in Myanmar. Only a half of working-age women are active in the country’s labour force and women are critically underrepresented in government. Further, women and girls from ethnic and religious minorities, those in areas affected by conflict, and those who are stateless remain especially vulnerable. These women and girls often suffer multiple forms of gender-based violence and the vast majority of cases go unreported and unacknowledged. Impunity for those responsible, be it in the home, workplace or in conflict situation, underpins the heightened challenge of addressing these issues in Myanmar.

  • Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung, Deputy Attorney General U Win Myint, Major General Khun Than Zaw Htoo, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population U Myo Aung, Vice Adjutant General, Office of the Commander in Chief of Army Representatives of Government Departments and members of the Committee on the Prevention of Underage Recruitment Mr Alec Wargo, from the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting colleagues, Workshop participants, Good morning and Mingalar ba. It gives me a great pleasure to express, on behalf of the Country Taskforce Co-Chairs, my most sincere thanks to the Government’s Committee on the Prevention of Underage Recruitment for hosting this important training. It demonstrates the commitment made at the Panglong conference in July to ensure protection of children’s rights and eliminate all the six grave violations, as well as the commitment to protect children in the Nation-wide Ceasefire Agreement.

  • Your Excellency U Hla Thein, Chairman of Union Election, Your Excellency U Soe Aung, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Your Excellency U Win Mra, Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, Chairpersons from Parliament Committees, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, Mingalabar and a very good morning to you all, I am pleased to have the opportunity to address you on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and the start of the 2018 Campaign for the 16 days of Activism. Gender inequality and violence against women and girls are among the most pressing challenges of our time. Globally, one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. Gender inequality deprives a family, a community or a country of healthy and holistic development. It prevents women and girls from fulfilling their potential and enjoying their rights. Women and girls from ethnic and religious minorities, those in areas of conflict and or who are stateless, remain especially vulnerable. They often suffer multiple forms of gender-based violence. The vast majority of cases go unreported and unacknowledged.