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In Myanmar, Aid to Kachin Areas Still Being Worked On Despite UN Bragging

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- Back on February 24, soon to be full-time UN envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar told Inner City Press that the Burmese government agreed that non-government aid could be delivered to areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization.

  Specifically, Nambiar answered Inner City Press that the government "relented" and said that while they will send government material along with UN aid.
   He added that if "the rebels" reject the government material at "the border," the UN's can continue.

  But since February 24, sources have contacted Inner City Press complaining that the aid Nambiar bragged off has not arrived or been allowed. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman has been asked about it. From the UN's March 12 transcript:

Inner City Press: when Vijay Nambiar was here giving his briefing on Myanmar, one of the things that he said is that he had negotiated some kind of agreement with the Government to get aid to the Kachin Independence Organization-held areas, he said that they had agreed to go together to the border and if the Kachin only wanted the international aid and, I think there is some interest in knowing, have those trips actually taken place. Do you know?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I don’t know the answer to that immediately, but I think I can find out. Certainly, if the Special Adviser on this has said that he is pushing for something, then I am sure that there will be follow-through, and I just need to check what that has been.

The next afternoon, Nesirky's office sent this:

Subject: On Myanmar
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM

On your recent questions on Myanmar: We have pressed upon our interlocutors in Myanmar to allow greater access to the UN family and partners to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced population. In December 2011, a UN mission traveled to previously inaccessible IDPs in some of the areas in areas beyond government control and managed to distribute an initial consignment of household relief items. Immediately after the December mission, the UN renewed efforts to speed up the dispatch of independent convoys to all areas where IDPs are located, without conditions attached.

The UN is currently discussing with both sides the modality for a sustained operation to provide IDPs with adequate supplies to address humanitarian needs across all affected areas. It is important that all parties involved facilitate such operations, which has a pure humanitarian value and is to be carried out in accordance with humanitarian principles.

During his visit, Mr. Nambiar raised the issue in various meetings with Government and Parliament interlocutors who have indicated that the Government would be favorable to the UN and humanitarian partners to provide assistance to all IDPs. The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has also accepted the offer of support of the UN in this regard. The UN and partners are now working on the modality for continuous support.

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