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Increased aid essential for all vulnerable residents in Rakhine, say senior UN officials

United Nations Development Program regional director for Asia and the Pacific Wu Haoliang (front) and other officials make their way to Nget Chaung IDP camp at Pauktaw Township in Rakhine State earlier this month. Photo: UNDP Myanmar

By Geoffrey Goddard
September 11, 2014

Increased humanitarian aid and development efforts are urgently needed to benefit all vulnerable people in Rakhine State, senior United Nations officials said on September 11 after a two-day visit.

"Stability and sustainable peace can be achieved in Rakhine State when the needs of all communities are met," said the United Nations Development Program's regional director for Asia and the Pacific, Xu Haoliang.

"We need both to address immediate needs of all vulnerable people and to increase the capacity of the state to provide quality basic services, including healthcare, education, water, livelihoods and infrastructure," Mr Xu said.

In a statement issued jointly with Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs director of operations John Ging, Mr Xu added that more needed to be done to "improve relations between different ethnic groups in Rakhine and to find durable solutions for displaced people."

Praising the progress made since his last visit a year ago despite "challenges and setbacks", Mr Ging said efforts must be redoubled to do more.

"The humanitarian situation is still unacceptably dire for far too many people, but thanks to the outstanding efforts of aid organisations the humanitarian situation is now stabilising," he said.

During their visit beginning on September 8, Mr Xu and Mr Ging "saw the positive and practical results of intercommunal dialogue, in the construction of new roads and bridges to improve economic activity between communities", the statement said.

"These projects give us a real basis for hope but we must not underestimate the challenges ahead, one of the most critical being a just and equitable resolution to the citizenship issue," said Mr Ging.

As well as visiting camps in the state capital, Sittway, and in Pauktaw, where the UN and international non-government organisations are providing humanitarian aid, they also went to villages in Sittway Township and Minbya, where UNDP is working with communities to strengthen social cohesion and improve basic services.

On September 10, together with Rakhine Chief Minister U Maung Maung Ohn, they participated in a ceremony to mark the start of work on a bridge that will give four villages all-season access with Sittway. The Ye Chan Pyin bridge project is being supported by the state government and the UNDP.

Mr Xu and Mr Ging travelled to Nay Pyi Taw on September 11 for meetings with senior officials, including Vice President Sai Mauk Kham.

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