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    PMI in Myanmar for long-haul

    Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) chairman Jusuf Kalla is in Myanmar this weekend to oversee a humanitarian effort that he said the PMI would be in for the long-haul.
    On Saturday, he signed a memorandum of cooperation with his Myanmarese counterpart, Tha Hla Swe, chairman of the country’s Red Cross Society.

    Under the agreement, the PMI will provide financial and technical assistance for short and long-term programs in response to the refugee crisis involving the Rohingya people in Rakhine state.
    Kalla said that the PMI would be nonpartisan and would apply lessons learned from handling similar ethnic conflicts in Indonesia.
    “In our country, we had an ethnic conflict that killed 5,000 people and we managed to stop this conflict in Poso before it spread to other parts of the country. We have to do the same here,” Kalla said in his speech prior to the signing of the document.
    Myanmar Red Cross Society chairman Hla Swe Said that the support would significantly help refugees.
    “The support will strengthen our efforts to provide aid to all affected communities based purely on need and irrespective of religious, racial and other considerations based on fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality,” he said.
    Kalla said that the PMI would likely stay in Rakhine for sometime in the future for the post-conflict reconstruction program.
    He said that the PMI would participate in a project to build homes for displaced Rohingya.
    “A number of the OIC [Organization of Islamic Conference] members have pledged financial assistance for this”, Kalla said shortly before the signing ceremony.
    Kalla added that so far the commitment had reached more than US$100 million.
    The PMI previously sent personnel and humanitarian aid.
    It sent eight personnel and aid comprising 500 sanitation kits, 3,000 blankets and 10,000 sarongs, traditional cloths worn by most Myanmarese known as Longyi.
    The government of Myanmar, which is currently undergoing a democratic process, allowed the PMI, along with other international humanitarian agencies, to send aid to refugees of the deadly conflict between the Rohingya and the people of Rakhine.
    Data from the UN Human Rights Council reveals that at least 78 people have been killed since riots broke out in May, while 1,200 people have gone missing and 80,000 others are seeking refuge around Sittwe and Maungdaw in Myanmar. (swd)
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