MANILA— Association Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states are ready to deploy assistance to Myanmar, as refugee crisis takes place in its Rakhine state.
“There are mechanisms to help other ASEAN member states to deal with emergencies not necessarily the Rohingya crisis. It could be natural disaster, it could be a humanitarian issue,” said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar in an interview Wednesday.
Bolivar was referring to Jakarta-based ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), which was operationalized for the first time when the Philippines was affected by super typhoon “Yolanda”.
The AHA Centre serves as the centre point for mobilization of resources to disaster-affected areas and act as the coordination engine to ensure ASEAN’s fast and collective response to disasters within the ASEAN region.
“AHA has resources contributed by all ASEAN member states, (these are) on standby. If Myanmar asks (for it) through this mechanism, the ASEAN can deploy that,” Bolivar said.
As chair of ASEAN, Bolivar earlier said the Philippines was coordinating with the government of Myanmar and the other ASEAN member states to “determine what assistance Myanmar may need and request on the humanitarian front and to identify the best modalities to deliver such assistance.”
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers are meeting this week in New York and are expected to have a dialogue with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees reportedly have fled to Bangladesh since violence erupted late last month.