New York: The UN Secretary-General and his “Group of Friends on Myanmar” praised the ASEAN-led humanitarian operations to assist the survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar as a creative modality to mobilise international resources and goodwill to provide the emergency relief and facilitate recovery.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired a meeting of the “Group of Friends on Myanmar” at the UN on 27 September 2008. His opening remarks included words of thanks to the ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan for his leadership and support for the Tripartite Core Group in Yangon, which is coordinating the humanitarian operations.

Similar praise also came from Mr Javier Solana, the High Representative of the EU, who pointed out that the humanitarian operations created a window of opportunity for the international community to work with ASEAN and Myanmar. This crucial window of opportunity must be kept open for the long-term benefit of the people in Myanmar, he said.

Dr. Surin thanked the UN Secretary-General and others for their support and encouragement. But he also appealed to them to continue their contributions to support the humanitarian operations in Myanmar. He noted that so far, only 52% of the revised appeal for US$482 million for the humanitarian operations has been met.

The “Group of Friends on Myanmar” was established by the UN Secretary-General in December 2007. It includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam from ASEAN, the EU, India, Japan, the ROK, Australia and Norway.