ASEAN summit statement urges ‘increased humanitarian access’ to Rakhine

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has called for “increased humanitarian access” in Rakhine State, in a statement issued at the end of its 31st summit in the Philippines capital, Manila.

The statement, issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in his capacity as summit chair, made no mention of the 600,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since late August to escape violence in Rakhine.

The 14-page, 144-point statement, dated November 13 but issued on November 16, referred to Rakhine in one paragraph, point 87.

It said “a number of leaders expressed support to Myanmar’s humanitarian relief program and welcomed the launch of the Myanmar government-led mechanism in cooperation with the Red Cross Movement and the assistance from the international community for those endeavours”.

The statement said the leaders had “underscored the importance of increased humanitarian access to affected areas and that assistance be given to all affected communities”.

They had also urged Myanmar to continue to implement the recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, handed down on August 24 hours before attacks by Islamic militants led to the Tatmadaw operation that precipitated exodus to Bangladesh.

The statement “welcomed the commitment by 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”.

It also expressed support to the Myanmar government “in its efforts 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”.

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