Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tatmadaw to assist ICRC in conflict areas

The Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services assured the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that the Tatmadaw will help the ICRC by providing assistance for Red Cross activities.

However, care should be taken in implementing these activities so that they would not get mired in political issues, according to a posting on the Commander-in-Chief’s Facebook account on Friday.

ICRC’s President Peter Maurer met Senior General Min Aung Hlaing last Friday in Nay Pyi Taw where he asked the Senior General to help them in visiting the conflict areas and also to allow their staff to work in conflict areas in Myanmar, by pointing out that they have work experience in high risk security areas such as Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

However, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing replied that the Myanmar conflict situation is much more complicated compared to other countries as there is a bigger political impact.

“The Senior General said that these countries are facing civil war. Ethnic armed conflicts occur in some remote areas, and they do not constitute a civil war in Myanmar and can cause political impact,” read the posting.

The Senior General also said that many internal and international organisations are behind these conflicts. However, the Tatmadaw will do its best by taking advice from local administrative bodies, relevant ministries and local military commanders.

Maurer, on his current visit to Myanmar, visited Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, before meeting with the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services in Nay Pyi Taw last week.

The government has denied his request to visit camps of internally displaced persons (IDP) located in restricted areas in Laiza, where the Kachin Independence Army headquarters is located.

The Senior General also commented in the meeting that consideration needs to be taken when dealing with the IDP camps as insurgents are found to be dishonest.

“Aid really should go to needy people,” said the Senior General. “Insurgents open camps disguised as places for refugees, regarding local people as human shields and opening IDP camps unnecessarily to receive aid though refugees should be released.”

Regarding the Rakhine State issue, documents and accounts for provisions need to be compiled while providing humanitarian aid so that recipients could be identified as genuine.

The Myanmar Red Cross Society and the ICRC, over the past two years, have been providing education on mine awareness to community members displaced by the conflict in Kachin State to reduce the risk of injury from landmines.

During the meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, the ICRC president also said that they would like to continue to cooperate in clearing land mines, restoring physical health and assembling artificial legs and limbs.

Despite a proposed pilot project last year to clear landmines in Kayin State, armed groups that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and the government have yet to start work.

The Facebook posting noted that the Tatmadaw also agreed to cooperate and to carry out tasks the proper way.

While fitting the artificial limbs, it also mentioned that priority needed to be given to injured persons from armed ethnic organisations and civilians.

In addition to its delegation in Yangon, the ICRC has offices in Rakhine State’s Sittwe and Mrauk-U, Kayin State’s Hpa-an, Kachin State’s Myitkyina townships and in Mandalay city, which also covers Shan State.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing appreciated the activities of ICRC in the conflict zones.

“We are striving to restore national peace so that we can reduce socio-economic hardships,” he said.