Nearly 20 of the world’s largest creditor countries have announced that they would be cutting nearly half of Myanmar’s total foreign debt, worth some six billion dollars.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group arm that focuses on the private sector, announced Wednesday that it would be backing a new microfinance institution in Myanmar aimed at reaching 200,000 people by 2020.
Worried over the possibility of further escalation of armed conflict in Myanmar, activists here are calling on Washington to take stronger action to condemn state forces for aerial bombardment of ethnic Kachin rebels and civilians in the country’s north, which some say constitutes crimes against humanity.
In late August, Mohammad Saifuddin (not his real name), together with his wife, three daughters and son, fled the carnage of communal violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine province and headed for the border of neighbouring Bangladesh.
Highlighting his much-ballyhooed “pivot” from the Greater Middle East to the Asia- Pacific region, Barack Obama leaves Friday for a four-day tour to Southeast Asia, including the first-ever visit by a U.S. president to Myanmar.
The World Bank has approved a major new development package for Myanmar, marking the first time the Washington-based development institution has lent to the country in a quarter century.
With a new surge in sectarian violence in western Myanmar estimated to have killed more than a hundred people in recent days, top officials in the United Nations are criticising the Myanmar government for dragging its feet on addressing the “root cause” of a conflict that could disrupt the delicate reforms process underway in the country.
Foreign donors are rushing into Myanmar (formerly Burma), whose government has been pushing the right political buttons as part of its democratic reform process. But development planners and local activists caution that the best approach should still be ‘easy does it’.
Following sectarian violence in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine in June, human rights researchers are now warning that the government appears to be attempting to permanently house parts of the stateless Muslim-minority Rohingya in “temporary” refugee camps, segregating them from the rest of the population.
Speaking on Tuesday at her first public address in the United States, Myanmar’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said that she supported the lifting of the last remaining U.S. economic sanctions on her country, but also warned that all remaining political prisoners need to be released.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has taken important steps towards democracy and greater respect for human rights during the last months with one exception, activists say – the situation for the Rohingya minority, which has faced an outburst of violent attacks this summer.
After months of speculation and rumours, President Thein Sein of Myanmar (earlier Burma) has created a “super” cabinet to try to salvage his besieged administration – riven with divisions and inertia. Currently he is embroiled in a constitutional crisis – a battle for power between the president and the parliament – that threatens to paralyse the government until it is resolved. This has left the president increasingly isolated, with only the army offering concrete support.
Following on calls by civil society, the World Bank has released a draft summary framework for its re-engagement with Myanmar over the next year and a half. The formal interim strategy is slated to be ready by the end of October.
In a country where talk of a ceasefire brings representatives from 11 different armed ethnic groups to the table, Myanmar’s chief peace negotiator, Railway Minister Aung Min, is experimenting with an unusual solution to decades of separatist struggles.
Following on a May announcement, the U.S. government on Wednesday moved to implement its most significant rollback in longstanding sanctions on Burma, also known as Myanmar.