ASEAN raises concern over Rakhine situatuation
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers have expressed concern over the violence in Northern Rakhine State of Myanmar where hundreds of people, mostly insurgents, have already been killed.
In a statement on Sunday, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, this year's ASEAN chairman, said the ASEAN foreign ministers also extended their deepest condolences to all the victims and affected communities of the conflict.
"They (foreign ministers) condemned the attacks against Myanmar security forces on 25 August 2017 and all the acts of violence which resulted in loss of civilian lives, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people," the ASEAN chairman's statement said.
Cayetano said the foreign ministers strongly urged all the parties involved to avoid actions that will further worsen the situation on the ground as they acknowledged that the situation in Rakhine State is a "complex inter-communal issue with deep historical roots."
He said the foreign ministers agreed that viable and long-term solutions to the root causes of the conflict must be found, including encouraging closer dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh, so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives.
"The Foreign Ministers welcomed the commitment by the Myanmar authorities to ensure the safety of civilians, take immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, restore normal socio-economic conditions, and address the refugee problem through verification process," Cayetano said.
He said the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management will work with the Myanmar government-led mechanism which will deliver humanitarian assistance to all displaced inhabitants without discrimination.
The foreign ministers urged Myanmar to continue to implement their recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
"The Foreign Ministers were prepared to support the Myanmar government in tis effrot to bring peace, stability, rule of law and to promote harmony and reconciliation between the various communities, as well as sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State," Cayetano said.
Aside from the Philippines, other ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Reports said that some 400 people have already been killed in the fresh violence in Rakhine. The United Nations has said that at least 38,000 people have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, most of them Rohingya. Celerina Monte/DMS