Myanmar Agrees to UN Security Council Visit; Where, When to be Decided

By Lawi Weng 6 April 2018

YANGON — Myanmar has given the UN Security Council permission to visit the country, including conflict-torn Rakhine State, after blocking its requests for months.

U Myint Thu, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the government has agreed to let the UN Security Council visit. But he added that critical details including exactly where and when they would travel had yet to be worked out, and that Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN in New York had been put in charge of those negotiations.

“They proposed a trip to come here last month.” U Myint Thu said. “We agreed to let them come.”

The ministry said delegates from neighboring countries, permanent member states of the Security Council and Singapore, as the current ASEAN chair, would join the trip.

The UN has been asking Myanmar to allow the visit since militant attacks on several security posts in northern Rakhine triggered a massive clearance operation by the military that has driven nearly 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh. The operation has generated widespread reports of arson, rape and murder by Myanmar’s security forces. The UN has called it a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, which the military denies.

The UN wants to send a team to northern Rakhine to investigate the alleged rights abuses. But Myanmar has repeatedly denied its requests, claiming the area was too insecure.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry now says the government wants to accommodate the UN.

“To be cooperative, we will let them come to our country and we will help them with the trip. We will try our best to help them with the trip,” U Myint Thu said. “Based on their request, we will negotiate about when they will come and the people they want to meet,” he said.

He said the delegates would also visit Bangladesh, where most of the refugees are sheltering in sprawling camps near the border.