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US, Singapore ‘deeply concerned’ for Myanmar

WASHINGTON

Singapore and therefore the united states are “deeply concerned and anxious” about the plight of the people of Myanmar, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said on Wednesday.

The people of Myanmar were already facing tough economic challenges and also the coronavirus pandemic has further affected the country, Dr. Balakrishnan told.

The issue of Myanmar had come up in Dr. Balakrishnan’s meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, he said.

The foreign minister cited rising poverty, political instability following a Feb 1 military coup, and also the violence it had generated, as concerns that the US and Singapore shared over Myanmar.

The US and Singapore believe, however, that the solution ultimately lies within Myanmar itself, he said.

“The people, the leaders – and therefore the leaders across the whole political spectrum – got to sit down, negotiate, discuss in straightness for the sake of the longer term ,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

“We can’t force this, but we will attempt to encourage, we will try to cajole, we will try in our own ways, to nudge them in this direction.”

Dr. Balakrishnan said he has yet to ascertain any sign of this, however.

“I hope I’m wrong and that I hope they’re actually having discussions,” he said.

“ASEAN is clearly trying to assist, we are expecting our Special Envoy, Dr. Erywan, to tend access to all or any parties and for him to be ready to help facilitate these discussions.”

Dr. Balakrishnan was pertaining to Brunei’s Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Erywan Yusof, who was nominated as Asean’s Special Envoy to Myanmar in August.

“I’m afraid there are not any quick and easy solutions, but to the utmost extent possible, where we will help, we’ll help,” the secretary of state said.

“So far in response to the humanitarian crisis, Singapore has sent medical supplies. We are working through the Myanmar Red Cross, and that we also will see whether there are other channels, other avenues through which we will deliver assistance effectively.”

Myanmar’s currency has lost quite 60 percent of its value in but five weeks during a collapse that’s driving up food and fuel prices.

In its last assessment in late August, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Unocha) said that at least 125,000 people had been suffering from monsoon floods across various regions and states within the country.

Thousands are displaced following armed clashes between the “People’s Defence Forces” and therefore the Myanmar army in Sagaing Region, according to local partners, Unocha reported.

Clashes in Chin State had, as of Aug 17, displaced nearly 16,700 people there. Meanwhile within the south-east, “an estimated 141,200 people remain displaced, mostly in Kayah and Kayin states, thanks to clashes and insecurity since Feb 1”, the assessment said.

“Food insecurity is becoming an evolving concern, with reports of food shortage in displacement sites and communities in northern Shan and Rakhine states,” the UN warned.

“As of Aug 27, 45 percent of the US$276.5 million (S$376 million) requested under the Humanitarian Response Plan, and over 10 percent of the US$109 million requested under the Interim Emergency Response Plan are funded,” Unocha said.

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