NAY PYI TAW, 11 June – A ceremony to hand over donation of the Government of the Union of Myanmar to the Government of Sri Lankan [sic] as a humanitarian assistance for the internally displaced people of the northern part of Sri Lanka was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Yangon at 3.30 pm today.The ceremony was attended by Minister for Foreign Affairs U Nyan Win, the deputy director-general and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mr Newton Gunaratna and officials from the Embassy of Sri Lanka.On behalf of the Government of the Union of Myanmar, Foreign Minister U Nyan Win handed over a cash donation of US $ 50,000 to Mr Newton Gunaratna, Ambassador of Sri Lanka. Afterards Ambassador Gunaratna spoke words of thanks.
Not much needs to be said about the absurdity of a recent article from the government’s newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar. Naypyidaw’s decision to hand over ‘humanitarian assistance’ for internally displaced citizens in northern Sri Lanka is ludicrous to the many Burma watchers focusing on refugees and IDPs. The Myanmar government will not recognize its own exiled refugee population and the causes of their flight. Nor will it recognize the significant amount of internal displacement within Myanmar’s borders. In addition, the government has recently been showing its aversion to the push by the UN Country team and INGOs to mainstream protection for IDPs — even those who were displaced by Nargis and not by violent conflict. Finally, the last time I checked, humanitarian assistance is not typically handed over in the form of cash to an Ambassador serving outside of the recipient country!