Wed 11 Jun 2014
Filed under: Ethnic Issues,Human Rights,Inside Burma,News,United Nations
The United Nations Children’s Fund has insisted it did not apologise for using the word “Rohingya” during a recent presentation to local partners in Rakhine State.
The Arakan Civil Society Network (Sittwe) said the agency had apologised in front of Minister for Border Affairs and Security Colonel Htein Linn and Rakhine civil society groups on June 5 for using the term during a meeting the previous day.
The group said UNICEF country representative Bertrand Bainvel “promised … UNICEF will never use that illegal word again” during a meeting in the minister’s office at 10am that day.
UNICEF did not reject this version of events when contacted by The Myanmar Times on June 6.
However, it said in a statement on June 11 – issued in response to “misreporting in some media” – that it had not apologised, despite having been asked to do so by Col Htein Linn.
“UNICEF explained the term was used in an oral presentation and this was an oversight, as UNICEF had no intention of engaging in a discussion on sensitive issue of ethnicity at that forum,” it said.
“The term ‘Rohingya’ has been used to identify one community living in Rakhine in numerous UN reports, including by the UN Secretary General, when referring to the political and humanitarian rights of minorities, to self-identification.”
The presentation was given on June 4 during the launch of a two-year plan to address the long-term needs of children in Rakhine State.
The controversy comes after the agency was forced to admit it was paying more than US$1 million a year in rent for its Yangon office, which is reportedly owned by former Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation U Nyunt Tin.