Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), carried out his second official visit to Myanmar from 9 to 12 May, according to a statement. Mr. Maurer met with the Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar’s Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, U Htin Kyaw, to discuss the humanitarian situation in the country and how the ICRC and other organizations could help alleviate the plight of people affected by conflict and violence.
“In my discussions with Myanmar’s leadership, I have stressed that the ICRC’s work, while purely humanitarian, can contribute to stability, build confidence in peace processes, and tie in with development efforts,” said Mr Maurer.
Mr Maurer also met the president of the Myanmar Red Cross Society and high-level officials to discuss humanitarian issues, particularly the challenges faced by the thousands of people displaced in Rakhine state and the north-eastern states of Kachin and Shan. He made a field visit to meet communities in Kachin and Rakhine.
Mr Maurer said that the ongoing transformation of Myanmar was remarkable, and had rightly captured the world's attention, but there was still intense suffering and humanitarian challenges in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan which should not be overlooked. “I hope my visit drew attention to these people’s needs and helped convince Myanmar’s civilian and military leaders to allow greater space for humanitarian action, which will help pave the way for peace and development,” he continued.
The ICRC president also reiterated his organization’s commitment to the people of Myanmar and his appreciation for the constructive dialogue with the government: “I have shared my convictions about the benefits of granting the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations unhindered access so that people affected by conflict and violence get the assistance and protection they need.”
The ICRC’s operation in Myanmar is its second largest operation in Asia. The organization has been present in the country for 30 years. Today, the main operational focus of its exclusively humanitarian activities is in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states. Where necessary the ICRC delivers emergency services, and wherever possible its programmes are designed to help reduce tensions and increase stability.