U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a delegation to visit Burma and Bangladesh to learn first-hand about the situation in Burma’s Rakhine State, including areas in the vicinity of the border. The delegation, led by the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs’ Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Joseph Yun and Ambassador Derek Mitchell, visited Burma from Sept. 7-10, 2012.
The delegation spent two days in Rakhine State, including communities in Sittwe Township, and neighboring villages around Maung Daw. Delegation members visited villages and IDP camps for displaced persons, local businesses, mosques and monasteries. They engaged with international and nongovernmental organizations and a broad spectrum from both Buddhist and Rohingya communities. The delegation also had extensive consultations with the Union Border Minister, the Chief Minister of Rakhine State, and other local government officials.
The delegation focused on the challenges resulting from the aftermath of recent communal violence in Rakhine State: lasting security and stability, freedom of movement for local residents, protection, and humanitarian access. They also solicited ideas on how the United States and international community can assist in long-term recovery efforts in Rakhine State. Broad swathes of both communities have been affected, and the humanitarian situation remains of great concern. Going forward it will be important to address the urgent needs, while also laying the groundwork for a long-term, sustainable and just solution.
In Nay Pyi Taw, the delegation met with Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin and Minister of the Office of the President U Aung Min. The delegation conveyed their appreciation for the government’s assistance in arranging the visit.
Delegation participants from Washington were: The Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs’ Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Joseph Yun; Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs’ Deputy Assistant Secretary Alyssa Ayres; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Dan Baer; Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Clements. Newly arrived USAID Rangoon Mission Director Chris Milligan joined the delegation on their visit. On September 10th, Yun, Ayres, Baer, and Clements departed for Bangladesh to continue consultations.