Nay Pyi Taw - IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing said rebuilding community cohesion in Myanmar is key to resolving the crisis created by the flight of 700,000 refugees to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh since last August.
DG Swing made the remarks in a meeting Thursday with Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar in the nation’s capital Nay Pyi Taw. He also welcomed a plan recently agreed to by UNDP and UNHCR (the UN agencies, respectively, for development and refugees) and the Myanmar government.
The Joint Myanmar Government-UN plan is designed to create the conditions for voluntary, safe and dignified return and reintegration of the refugees with quick impact projects to benefit communities. The aim is to create confidence-building and social cohesion measures leading to economic growth and development.
“Myanmar faces great challenges, and there is an urgent need to help bring communities together to enable the country to achieve its great potential” Swing said.
IOM has a track record in peace and reconciliation worldwide, and he offered its support in this regard.
In wide-ranging discussions, Swing and Aung San Suu Kyi discussed IOM’s decade-long, active presence in Myanmar where its 600 staff are providing a range of services to vulnerable communities in 13 of the country’s 14 states and regions, including Rakhine state. IOM’s work focuses on safe and orderly migration, community development, health care, disaster risk reduction and preventing human trafficking and smuggling.
The meeting coincided with peace and reconciliation talks in the capital which Aung San Suu Kyi is leading. With a number of the country’s multiple ethnic groups still involved in active conflict, the government faces many challenges beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis of the refugees.
One of those is migration with its long borders with Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh. (Some 25 per cent of Myanmar’s population are migrants, whether internally or in foreign countries.)
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