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Myanmar: first-ever visit by an ICRC president

14-01-2013 News Release 13/02

Yangon/Geneva (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, arrived in Myanmar on 13 January to hold a series of meetings with President Thein Sein, other senior officials and with the president of the Myanmar Red Cross Society. Mr Maurer also plans to visit Rakhine state, where the ICRC is carrying out humanitarian activities, so he can acquaint himself with the situation of people affected by inter-communal violence.

"This visit is very important," said Mr Maurer. "Myanmar's government has signalled its readiness to discuss a number of humanitarian issues with us. This is a significant step forward in our dialogue and in strengthening our relationship with the Myanmar authorities. Over the past year, there have been positive developments on various issues where the ICRC's expertise could benefit the people of Myanmar”.

Mr Maurer's meeting with government officials will take place in Nay Pyi Taw. "The talks are expected to focus on the recent announcement by the government that it will allow our staff to visit detention places,” he said. “On the issue of broader access to conflict-affected areas such as Kachin and Kayin states – where we stand ready to aid and improve the well-being of people affected by conflict or violence – and on our current and future activities in Rakhine state”.

Together with the Myanmar Red Cross Society, the ICRC provided basic but vital assistance to sick, wounded and displaced people from all communities shortly after the outbreak of violence in Rakhine state. Since June of last year, the ICRC has had national and expatriate personnel stationed in Sittwe to provide support for medical staff and Red Cross volunteers. Both the ICRC and the Myanmar Red Cross Society are evacuating patients who cannot reach health facilities on their own and administering first aid to the injured. In addition, the ICRC is renovating sanitary facilities and supplying water in camps housing displaced people.

For further information, please contact:
Takanori Hosokawa, ICRC Yangon, tel: +95 1 662 613 or +95 94199 1881
Philippe Stoll, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 40 or +41 79 536 92 49
Sebastien Carliez, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 28 81 or +41 79 536 92 37
Bijan Frederic Farnoudi, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 34 43 or +41 79 536 92 59