GENEVA – Aung San Suu Kyi has set out plans for a new humanitarian project to enable Burma‘s Arakan State to emerge as a peaceful and developed region, which a close adviser said showed her determination to fix the country’s refugee crisis.
Suu Kyi said in a televised address on Thursday evening that she would invite aid organisations, business leaders and civil society to take part in the initiative, which aims to defuse the violence that has caused 536,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee from Arakan State to Bangladesh in the past two months.
“What she’s interested in is how to fix this, how to … give the civilian government, as opposed to the military, the power to deliver aid, reconciliation and rebuilding,” said the adviser, who briefed reporters, by telephone, on condition of anonymity.
“That’s the task she has set herself.”
In her speech, Suu Kyi said that although the government may not be strong, she hoped the strength and generosity of the people would turn the initiative, to be launched on Sunday, into a “milestone” in Burmese history.
Representatives of Suu Kyi in Burma could not be reached to confirm the adviser’s comments. But two leading Burmese experts confirmed to Reuters that the adviser was close to her.
The United Nations has called the violence in Burma a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi has been widely criticised for failing to take action to stop it.
“She is appalled by what she has seen. She does care deeply about this. I know that does not always come across. But she really does,” Suu Kyi’s adviser told reporters.
But she had to tread carefully in order not to inflame things further, he said, saying Burma‘s transition to democracy was in a “perilous position”.