Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on Myanmar, 28 February 2019

Mr President,

South Africa thanks the Special Envoy, Ms Christine Schraner Burgener, for her informative briefing following her recent visit to the region. We also wish to commend Ms Burgener for her continued efforts in finding solutions to this crisis, including through engagement with all parties.

At the outset, South Africa condemns the deadly attacks and violence that took place in Rahkine State in January 2019. It is of paramount importance that the parties cease, immediately, all acts of violence that can only serve to further perpetuate the crisis and prolong and worsen the unbearable human suffering that it has brought about.

On this point, South Africa remains deeply concerned by the serious humanitarian crisis that persists, affecting inter alia almost one million Rohingya refugees, including women and children. South Africa commends the efforts of the Bangladesh Government, and host communities in Bangladesh, for assisting these vulnerable persons, and calls on the Government of Myanmar to work with all relevant actors, including the United Nations, to urgently facilitate the conditions that will allow a voluntary return of displaced persons, in conditions of safety and dignity.

Mr President,

We appreciate the positive developments reported on to us by Ms Christine Schraner Burgener, which in summary were:

  • 1st that Christine has been given permission to open an office in the Capital, Naypyidaw:
  • 2nd That there are processes underway to discuss the Constitutional amendments;
  • 3rd That the verification process have been shortened from 2 years to 5 months;
  • 4th that the Myanmar authorities have allowed Christine to have more access to all parties and travel more freely around Myanmar;
  • 5th Appreciation must be expressed for the efforts of China, India and Japan for their contributions to the Construction of transit camps.

Mr President,

It is evident from the Special Envoy’s briefing and reports, that the humanitarian crisis is being perpetuated by the lack of access to life-saving humanitarian assistance, including restrictions to access to health, education and other essential services, as well as ways to make a decent living and live a full life.

In this regard, South Africa encourages the Government of Myanmar to fully implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 6 June 2018 with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to address these challenges. In this regard, it is also critical that these agencies receive the necessary resources to allow them to address this humanitarian crisis.

Mr President,

The Council should also take onboard the views of India, China, Japan, ASEAN, as well as all other interested parties, across religious sectarian lines, to facilitate unity among the people of Myanmar. We should also pay attention to the plight of other ethnic minorities.

In conclusion, we wish to reiterate that the only sustainable solution to this crisis is a negotiated, inclusive, fair political settlement which puts the interests and well-being of all communities, including the Rohingya people, front and center, and which allows the for the essential processes of truth, justice and reconciliation, towards lasting peace and healing.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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