Ban convenes ‘Group of Friends’ meeting on Myanmar

23 July 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today convened a meeting of the so-called “Group of Friends” established to review developments in Myanmar to discuss the upcoming visit to the country of his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari.

“The Group expressed strong support for the Secretary-General’s good offices efforts,” according to a statement issued by a spokesperson for Mr. Ban.

“Members of the Group also noted their expectations that Mr. Gambari’s next visit would need to yield tangible progress on the issues of concern to the international community, particularly with regard to the resumption of dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Government, the credibility of the electoral process, and the regularization of engagement with the good offices of the Secretary-General.”

Today’s meeting is the fourth since the Group was created in December 2007, after the Government in Myanmar forcefully cracked down on peaceful protesters.

According to the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Australia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, the European Community and the European Union took part in the meeting.

The top UN humanitarian official is currently in Myanmar on a three-day visit to assess the situation of survivors of the deadly Cyclone Nargis which struck the country in May.

Yesterday, he said that while there has been progress in relief and early recovery operations, greater efforts are needed to reach victims in remote areas.

The remarkable resilience of people so severely affected by Cyclone Nargis is evident in the way communities are rebuilding their homes and livelihoods,” Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said.

“We must focus now on reaching the most vulnerable communities in remote areas, especially along the southern coast of the delta.”

Earlier this week, a new report – produced jointly by the UN, the Government of Myanmar and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – assessing the disaster’s impact was released, putting a $1 billion price tag on recovery needs over three years, taking into account such areas as education, health, rebuilding livelihoods, infrastructure, agriculture and the environment.


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