ASEAN backs Myanmar's relief programme for Rohingyas; Suu Kyi confirms commitment to repatriate fleeing minority

Bangkok: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday backed Myanmar's humanitarian relief programme in the Rakhine state.

Around 615,000 members of the Muslim minority Rohingya community have fled to Bangladesh from Rakhine following a military offensive by the Myanmar Army since late August.

"A number of leaders expressed support to Myanmar's humanitarian relief programme... They underscored the importance of increased humanitarian access to the affected areas and that assistance be given to all affected communities," according to the ASEAN statement.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The statement, which does not specifically mention the Rohingyas, comes three days after a meeting, in which topics such as the South China Sea dispute and restrictions on palm oil in the European Union were also discussed, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Asean, comprising Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, also urged the Myanmar government to continue to work towards restoring peace and stability in Rakhine, ensure safety of civilians and ensure peace and harmony among different communities.

During the summit, Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi had confirmed her commitment to begin the process of repatriation of the refugees in Bangladesh after a due verification process.

The statement also announced an agreement with Beijing to start negotiations for a code of conduct to prevent escalation of violence over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

China disputes the sovereignty of a majority of the islands and shoals in the South China Sea with countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The statement also expressed "the deep concern of some ASEAN member states on issues relating to restricting market access for palm oil in the European market" which, it said, has adverse implications for the palm oil producing countries in ASEAN.

Updated Date: Nov 16, 2017 21:36 PM

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