Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan’s Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Repatriation of Refugees to the Rakhine State, 4 March 2022

04 March 2022



                   Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) whether he can provide an update regarding plans for a safe and dignified repatriation of refugees back to Rakhine state; and (b) how will Singapore work with ASEAN to ensure safeguards are in place and repatriation of refugees will be conducted in accordance with international law and standards.





                 Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: The situation in the Rakhine State remains dire. It is a long-standing, complex, inter-communal issue. The current political instability in Myanmar has further complicated the situation. There are reports of the resumption of conflict between the Myanmar military and armed groups in the Rakhine State, which have further diminished the prospect of the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees.



2                  Despite the challenges, ASEAN has pressed on with efforts to facilitate the safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation of refugees. Singapore has strongly supported these efforts. ASEAN’s work has primarily focussed on helping to improve ground conditions in the Rakhine State. The Preliminary Needs Assessment (PNA) and the ASEAN Secretariat’s Ad-Hoc Support Team was established to monitor the implementation of the PNA. However, progress has stalled given the current political instability in Myanmar, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we are prepared to send further consignments of aid and stand ready to support future comprehensive needs assessments once repatriation commences so that we can be more targeted in helping the displaced persons.



3                   Additionally, Singapore has contributed over S$1 million in bilateral humanitarian aid to both Bangladesh and Myanmar to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of displaced persons. There are ongoing community efforts to provide aid. We have also made contributions through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management.



4                 Ultimately, peace and security in the Rakhine State requires a comprehensive political solution that addresses the fundamental causes of the conflict, and which takes into account the concerns of all ethnic communities. There are no quick fixes. Singapore will continue to work with ASEAN to support efforts to bring peace, stability, the rule of law, promote harmony and reconciliation among the various communities, as well as to ensure sustainable and equitable development in the Rakhine State.



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4 MARCH 2022


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