Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, also the ASEAN Special Envoy on Myanmar, said progress had been made on work related to providing humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, although he said many obstacles still exist.
Sokhonn led a high-level consultative May 6 meeting on ASEAN humanitarian assistance to Myanmar. The meeting was attended by senior officials from ASEAN countries, ASEAN secretary-general Lim Jock Hoi, UN representative in charge of humanitarian assistance, and officials from Myanmar.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Sokhonn said that the meeting had initially selected five regions for the provision of humanitarian assistance. Two of them will be made priorities, as there are people in need of assistance.
Sokhonn urged all sides to put their differences aside, and to focus on providing assistance to people in need. He said humanitarian assistance to Myanmar has faced obstacles through different conditions put in place by both the Myanmar side and by those outside Myanmar, such as donor countries and agencies.
“Some countries or agencies intended to provide assistance to the people of Myanmar without consultation with or monitoring by the host country [Myanmar]. The host country also set some conditions; one of them was to tax humanitarian assistance. But we negotiated successfully and this requirement has been removed,” he said.
He added that there are many other obstacles in transporting assistance – as well as Covid-19 vaccines – to the people of Myanmar, and there were fears that assistance could go to resistance groups. All of these problems had been discussed and many had been solved.
He said more cooperation between ASEAN and the UN is needed to solve the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
Sokhonn said that Cambodia has been praised for placing the Myanmar issue high on its agenda during its ASEAN Chairmanship this year.
He said that he will embark on his second visit to Myanmar as ASEAN Special Envoy later this month, after his return from the ASEAN-US summit with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Washington next week.