UN Political Affairs Chief to Visit Myanmar

By Zarni Mann 12 October 2017

The UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will make an urgent five-day visit to Myanmar on Friday to address the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, the UN announced on Wednesday.

“Following the Secretary-General’s repeated calls for an end to the military operations and violence in northern Rakhine state; unfettered access for humanitarian support; and the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of refugees to their areas of origin, Mr. Feltman will be undertaking consultations with a view to addressing these urgent issues in close cooperation with Myanmar,” said the announcement.

A UN spokesperson told The Irrawaddy that details of his visit and meetings were yet to be announced but it is understood discussions will focus on the cooperation of the Myanmar government.

His visit coincides with the recall of UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien to the UN in New York. It was announced on Wednesday that she would end her duties in Myanmar by the end of October.

“The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator will use her remaining time until the end of the month to further the UN system’s efforts to promote peace and security, human rights, as well as humanitarian and development assistance for all people in Myanmar,” said the announcement.

The news of Lok-Dessallien’s possible removal from her role first surfaced in June.

According to a BBC news report, she was being criticized internally and being accused of the suppressing internal discussion on the self-identifying Rohingya issue.

However, the spokesperson of the UN office in Myanmar refused to give comment on her recall.

The Canadian citizen began the job in January 2014 and was the first woman to take up the role. She previously worked as resident and humanitarian coordinator in Bhutan, Bangladesh, and China.