India on Thursday announced a development assistance of $25 million for Myanmar’s Rakhine State, from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims recently fled following incidents of violence against the community. This came a day after Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Myanmar on Wednesday, and met Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the amount will be spent over a period of five years.
“The amount of commitment to the development efforts is USD 25 million over five years which is an indicative figure and depends on the actual requirement and utilisation,” he said.
An estimated 6,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State since late August after large-scale violence there.
The issue of India’s development assistance to Rakhine State was discussed in detail during Jaishankar’s talks with Myanmar leaders in its capital Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday.
Kumar said there were several other aspects of discussions which include how India can help the country in restoring normalcy in Rakhine State and enable return of displaced persons.
Asked about the financial assistance, he said the broad objective of it is to restore normalcy in the troubled state. He said India would welcome Myanmar’s talks with any country which could help in the restoration of peace and the return of displaced persons to the Rakhine State.
India and Myanmar Wednesday had inked an agreement on restoration of normalcy and development of the Rakhine State.
The Foreign Secretary also met Union Minister in State Counsellor’s Office U Kyaw Tint Swe and Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye.
“All matters relating to bilateral cooperation, including follow up on decisions taken during recent visit of Prime Minister of India to Myanmar, as well as matters pertaining to Rakhine State were discussed during these meetings,” a statement from MEA said.
The Foreign Secretary and Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung signed a bilateral MoU on Rakhine State Development Programme. This MoU is the first government-to-government agreement signed by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar with a cooperation partner focussed on socio-economic development and livelihood initiatives in Rakhine State.
This is intended to help the Myanmar government achieve its objective of restoration of normalcy in Rakhine State and enable the return of displaced persons. Under this MoU, the Indian government proposes to take up, among others, a project to build prefabricated housing in Rakhine State so as to meet the immediate needs of returning people.
In addition to the Rakhine State project proposals, a number of ongoing friendship projects were reviewed. “Issues regarding the operation and maintenance of Sittwe port and the road from Paletwa- Zorinpui were reviewed…,” the statement said.