SUPPORTING RETURNING COMMUNITIES
TO RAKHINE STATE
The humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, Myanmar, is complex and protracted in nature, requiring ongoing support and partnerships to facilitate the repatriation of communities displaced during preceding years. After in-depth discussions and planning, the AHA Centre was requested by the Government of Myanmar to assist its work in the repatriation process, resulting in the Centre and members of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) undertaking preliminary needs assessments with the Government of Myanmar during the early stages of 2019. On May 27, 2019, the ASEAN Secretary-General and Myanmar’s Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement met to discuss the results of the needs assessments, and determine plans for implementation processes to enhance a safe, dignified and voluntary community repatriation to the region.
It was during the 33rd ASEAN Summit, held on 13 November 2018 in Singapore, that the Heads of State/Government from ASEAN Member States expressed their readiness to support Myanmar in its ongoing repatriation efforts. The ASEAN Leaders also welcomed the invitation extended by the Government of Myanmar to the AHA Centre to deploy a needs assessment team, tasked to identify possible areas of cooperation in Rakhine State in order to facilitate the repatriation process. A terms of reference was collaboratively developed by the Department of Disaster Management of Myanmar (DDM Myanmar), the AHA Centre and the ASEAN Secretariat, with the developed objective of the Preliminary Needs Assessment aimed to assess the readiness of Reception and Transit Centres, including potential relocations sites, previously identified by the Government of Myanmar.
During March 2019, an ASEAN-ERAT team composed of ten members from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the AHA Centre and the ASEAN Secretariat, were deployed to Myanmar. The mission began with a preparedness training and planning workshop in Nay Pyi Taw – jointly organised by the DDM Myanmar and the AHA Centre – and included a briefing on safety and security, team organisation and responsibilities, testing of communications procedures, and review of the repatriation plan and assessment tools. ASEAN-ERAT was supported by officials from DDM Myanmar, the ASEAN Secretariat, and two interpreters. The findings of the assessment and the Executive Summary of the report were then presented to the Director-General of DDM Myanmar, and a briefing provided to the Secretary-General of ASEAN regarding the outcome of the Preliminary Needs Assessment.
Given the complexity of crisis in Rakhine State, it was important for the region to provide objective, unbiased and constructive support to the Government of Myanmar to ensure strong repatriation processes for affected communities. Findings from the ASEAN-ERAT Preliminary Needs Assessment showed that the Government of Myanmar has put significant effort into its repatriation plan, including the preparation of facilities, humanitarian assistance and human resources. While ongoing efforts to repatriate displaced persons continue, ASEAN-ERAT identified options for strengthening reception and transit centres, as well as recommendations on information dissemination, and provision of basic services. These three areas of cooperation will valuably support the Government of Myanmar in the process, and stand as the ASEAN region’s key support mechanism through a positive working partnership with the Government of Myanmar.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Myanmar, I am grateful to ASEAN for standing firmly with Myanmar, and for supporting repatriation through preliminary needs assessments. As one of our most trusted and supportive partners, Myanmar looks forward to continuing working with ASEAN and continuing to strengthen our regional ties through these efforts.”
– Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Myanmar.
Written by : Grace Endina | Photo : AHA Centre, ASEAN-ERAT