EU urges end to Myanmar unrest, vows $100 mln aid
YANGON - Agence France-Presse
A Rohingya Muslim woman hides with her child in Teknaf, Banglades. REUTERS PhotoEuropean Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has called for an end to communal killings in Myanmar following talks with President Thein Sein, while pledging more than $100 million aid to the former pariah state.
“We are deeply concerned by these events and by the consequences for the reforms and democratization of the country. We hope that all religious leaders will call for restraint,” Barroso said in a speech on Nov. 3. “The EU stands ready to mobilize four million Euros for immediate humanitarian needs, provided access to the affected areas is guaranteed,” he said.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced since June in two major outbreaks of violence in western Rakhine state, about 30,000 of them in the latest clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims which began last month. Dozens have been killed in the latest violence and thousands of homes torched.
Barroso, the latest in a series of Western officials to visit Myanmar after a quasi-civilian government led by Thein Sein took charge last year, was speaking at a newly established peace centre in Yangon.
Barroso said initial funding for the peace centre would be followed by a “sizable package later this year, also benefitting ethnic communities”, according to the statement, which added that the EU will contribute a total of 30 million Euros to the ethnic peace process in 2013.
The EU has contributed 700,000 Euros to set up the peace centre, which is designed to ease “dialogue between all those concerned by Myanmar’s ethnic peace processes”, a separate European Commission statement said.
Barroso’s comments came after he met Myanmar’s president and held talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Nobel laureate told the BBC on Nov.3 that she would not use “moral leadership” to back either side in the Rakhine unrest, which has mainly pitted ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against stateless
Rohingya Muslims. Her comments are likely to disappoint rights groups hopeful that she would speak up on behalf of the Rohingya, who make up the majority of those displaced by the fighting.