Wednesday, 6 July, 2022

Thailand should open shared border to facilitate humanitarian aid: Asean

KUALA LUMPUR: As the conflict and humanitarian situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate, Malaysia and Indonesia being the founding members of Asean should take the lead in asking Thailand to open its shared border with Myanmar to facilitate humanitarian assistance, reports Bernama.

Opening the shared border will help ensure proper channelling and coordination of cross border humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing from the junta rule which is blamed for the violent clampdown on large scale protests, armed uprising and killings.

"With this ongoing Myanmar humanitarian crisis, we urge the Thai government and founding members of Asean (Malaysia and Indonesia) to work in unison and proactively to solve the humanitarian crisis," said former Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya during a webinar entitled beyond "ASEAN's Five point Consensus: Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar” Friday.

Prior to this, media reported that thousands of Myanmar villagers have been living under makeshift tents alongside Moei river that borders Thailand, fearful of returning to their homes which they said had been bombarded by military air strikes but reluctant to seek refuge across the border.

Heavy fighting between the Myanmar military, which seized power in a coup on Feb 1, 2021, and resistance fighters has killed or displaced thousands of civilians in the country. Kasit, who is board member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), also suggested that the United Nations Secretary General to call the Thai prime minister to open the country's shared border with Myanmar to facilitate humanitarian assistance.

He added that during his diplomatic career, he was in constant touch with UN agencies in Bangkok to resolve the issues relating to the refugees crossing Thailand-Myanmar border.

Meanwhile, when asked on his expectations on the possible outcome of the consultative meeting tomorrow, he said it was more of a theoretical act and nothing much could be expected.

According to Xinhua news agency, the meeting will be attended physically and virtually by the high-level representatives from all Asean member states, Asean external partners, United Nations specialised agencies, and other relevant international organisations.

"The consultative meeting will provide a high-level platform for ASEAN to initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue that serves to provide guidance on how to advance Asean's humanitarian aid to the people of Myanmar based on humanitarian principles and without discrimination," reported the agency quoting a statement.

On the same note, Associate Senior Fellow of Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) and former executive director of the AHA centre, Adelina Kamal, said it is difficult to expect a positive outcome of the consultative meeting tomorrow.

"How can we trust the outcome of the consultative meeting when the source of violence itself (determines) how the aid is directed and managed," she said in referring to the country's junta.