RAKHINE - “I’m so moved to see how powerful these women are despite the very difficult living conditions they have,” says Mikio Numata, Ambassador of Japan, of the women’s group he met at the Baw Du Pha Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in rural Sittwe, Rakhine State.
In January 2014, accompanied by World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director and Representative Domenico Scalpelli, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative ad interim Ayaki Ito and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Toily Kurbanov, Ambassador Numata went around Rakhine State to assess the impact of the assistance programmes funded by the Government of Japan.
Ambassador Numata at Set Yoe Kya IDP camp.
Photo: WFP/Ayuka Ibe
Among the areas he visited were Set Yoe Kya Camp in Sittwe Town and Sin Tet Maw Camp and Village in Pauktaw Township where WFP provides life-saving food assistance, UNHCR takes care of shelter and non-food items, UNDP implements economic recovery and social cohesion projects to encourage peaceful co-existence between the Muslim and Buddhist communities. Ambassador Numata also met with the victims of a recent fire incident that destroyed some 30 shelters and affected over 500 displaced persons in Sin Tet Maw Camp.
Rakhine hosts around 140,000 IDPs as a result of the inter-communal violence that took place in June and October 2012. Moreover, 44 percent of the population in Rakhine State live below the poverty line compared to the national average of 25 percent, highlighting the need for development support in this region. The United Nations (UN) and its partners have been providing support to the Government of Myanmar in responding to the humanitarian, recovery and development needs in Rakhine State.
Heading to Pauktaw on a WFP boat.
Photo: UNHCR/Medea Savary
At the end of his visit, Ambassador Numata, together with the three heads of the UN Agencies, met with the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Breeding, the Minister of Electric Power and Industry, the Minister of Transport and the Secretary of Rakhine State where he expressed his commitment to the work of the UN in supporting the Government of Myanmar in Rakhine State. He also stressed the need for the Government to share its Master Plan for Rakhine State, and emphasized the importance of transparency and information disclosure in its projects.
In March 2014, WFP Myanmar received JPY 1 billion (US$9.7 million) contribution from the Government of Japan in support of life-saving food assistance to IDPs in Rakhine, Kachin and Northern Shan States. Japan is the largest donor to WFP in Myanmar.