Tomorrow afternoon (20 June), Council members will be updated on developments in Myanmar by the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, who recently returned from a visit to the country. (Nambiar’s previous visit had been in early April, shortly after the landmark by-elections which resulted in Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy winning 43 seats out of the 44 constituencies where it fielded candidates.) Nambiar has in the past briefed Council members following his visits to Myanmar and, as has previously been the case, no Council action is anticipated tomorrow.
Nambiar had been in Myanmar to attend the Peace Donor Support Group, which was established by Norway to work with the government and other partners. It appears that following an outbreak of violence in Rakhine State on 8 June, the UN Resident Coordinator and Nambiar asked to be allowed to visit the area. (The government declared a state of emergency in Rakhine following the violence and the UN temporarily relocated some of its staff from the area.) A UN team that included Nambiar visited IDP camps and villages on 13 and 14 June that had been affected by the violence.
Council members are likely to want more information on the recent troubles in the western Rakhine State. The communal violence between the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims has reportedly led to 25 deaths, 41 wounded, and hundreds of homes torched. Council members may be looking for a clearer understanding of what caused the violence as media reports do not provide a complete picture. Upon the conclusion of his visit to Maungdaw in Rakhine State Nambiar called for a “full, impartial and credible investigation of the disturbances to be conducted urgently.”
Several members are also likely to want more information on the humanitarian crisis resulting from the recent violence. (Large numbers of refugees fleeing Myanmar were reportedly turned away by Bangladesh coast guards and border security.) The Special Adviser was informed during his visit that around 15,000 people had been internally displaced in Rakhine State due to the recent troubles.
In the past the most pressing issue for some Council members was the political situation in Myanmar. There appears to be a higher level of comfort now with the democratic transition and the pace of political reform in Myanmar, although some members are still concerned by the number of political prisoners yet to be released.
As Council members meet in consultations tomorrow, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is completing a five-nation tour of Europe after recently leaving Myanmar for the first time in 24 years.
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