By KHINE KYAW
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
At a ceremony to mark the completion of buildings for conflict-affected people in southeast Myanmar held in Lay Kay Kaw village in Myawady district near the Myanmar-Thai border on Friday, Sasakawa said that the organisation would use funds provided by the Japanese government to implement more aid projects in Myanmar with the approval of President Htin Kyaw’s government.
“We have implemented a total of 70 projects, worth $89.5 million in Myanmar. Among them, 20 projects are now in progress while the others were successfully completed. We noticed widely spread rumours that our support to Myanmar would come to an end, once we complete the ongoing projects. Such rumours are groundless. We are more than happy to provide further support to this country,” he said.
Sasakawa said that the organisation’s support to Myanmar began with the development of human resources and treatment of leprosy patients through distribution of medicines. Over time, TNF has expanded its activities across a wide range of fields, including health, education, human resource development, support for people with disabilities and support to conflict-affected communities.
The ongoing projects focus on five core areas– six for health, four for education, four for human resource development, three for supporting people with disabilities, and three for support to conflict-hit communities.
In support of conflict areas, TNF has provided $19.3 million worth of relief items including food, medicine, mosquito nets and solar items to more than one million beneficiaries, and has supported Mae Tao clinic to offer free medical services to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Myanmar and refugees of the Myanmar-Thai border since 2012.
Another ongoing project is the rehabilitation programme for conflict-affected people in Myanmar which started last year. The programme will be implemented in 25 different places in three regions in Southeast Myanmar (Tanintharyi, Kayin and Mon) controlled by ethnic armed groups.
Under the programme, 1250 houses, seven schools, four health clinics, one bridge and five wells will be built to stabilise everyday life of IDPs. Solar power system will also be implemented by its Japanese partner BHN association. In addition, TNF will help Myanmar’s peace process by promoting trust between the government and ethnic groups.
Sasakawa said that it is the first rehabilitation programme supported by Japan’s foreign ministry, and is the largest programme of its type in those conflict areas. He said the Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups including Karen National Union (KNU) and Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council have agree to cooperate with TNF in the implementation of $10 million project, which will benefit approximately 6,000 conflict-affected people.
The rehabilitation programme began in Lay Kay Kaw village controlled by KNU, the longest-standing ethnic armed group which fought for the welfare of Karen people and already signed the National Ceasefire Agreement.
KNU president General Mutu Sae Poe delivered a long speech at the event.
“At first, we did not really expect bloody fighting with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar armed forces). But unfortunately, it became unavoidable. We were eager to end these conflicts but we did not have a chance to discuss for more than six decades.
“The former Thein Sein administration paved a way for us to discuss peace-building. Then we actively participated in the discussions, and friendship and trust between each other became stronger after [state counsellor] Aung San Suu Kyi had formed the government,” he said.
Mutu Sae Poe said he warmly welcomes TNF’s development projects in Kayin State, as he wants to see his nativestate develop faster than ever.