JAKARTA, 14 June 2019 – ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, today briefed the diplomatic community on the preliminary needs assessment in Rakhine State in a session attended by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of ASEAN, ambassadors and diplomats from ASEAN Partners, relevant UN agencies and other international organisations.

Dato Lim was joined by Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Kung Phoak, ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) Executive Director Adelina Kamal and Deputy Executive Director Arnel Capili.

Following the decision of the 33rd ASEAN Summit last year for the AHA Centre to dispatch a needs assessment team to identify possible areas of cooperation in Rakhine State to facilitate the repatriation process, the Secretary-General shared the developments in ASEAN’s collective efforts to follow through the Leaders’ decision. As per his mandate to lead the needs assessment and to coordinate with relevant parties to take forward a more visible and enhanced role of ASEAN in coordination with the AHA Centre and the Chair of ASEAN, he highlighted the measures and steps which have been undertaken to address the needs in Rakhine.

Dato Lim made official visits to Myanmar in December 2018 and May 2019 and met with high-ranking officials of the Government of Myanmar, including the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the relevant Union Ministers, to coordinate and discuss the ways ahead in the needs assessment. He also visited Rakhine State to interact with and understand the concerns of the affected communities. Apart from the collective measures taken at the regional level, he also highlighted ASEAN Member States’ bilateral contributions to the Government of Myanmar and the displaced persons of Rakhine.

At the briefing, AHA Centre Deputy Executive Director Arnel presented highlights of the preliminary needs assessment which was conducted from 4 to 13 May 2019 by an ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) comprising personnel from ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre.

The report identifies three potential areas of collaboration, namely: enhancing capacity of reception and transit centres; strengthening information dissemination; and support to the provision of basic services.

Dato Lim stressed that this assessment was the first among other activities planned to support the safe, secure and dignified voluntary return of displaced persons to Rakhine State. This includes a series of comprehensive needs assessments which will commence when the security of the displaced persons is assured. In the interim, two immediate follow-up actions will be undertaken to implement these recommendations, namely to establish a technical working group to coordinate the implementation of the recommendations from the initial assessment, and implement the local capacity building programme referencing ASEAN-ERAT methodologies to support the repatriation process. He sought the support of the ASEAN Partners in its efforts to constructively contribute to peaceful and sustainable development in Rakhine State.

The briefing was well-received by ASEAN partners and international organizations in attendance who expressed their support to ASEAN in its efforts to address the needs in Rakhine State.