Madam President,

I would like to thank Mr Mohamed Khaled Khiari and Ms Lisa for their interventions. We welcome this meeting and the presence of the representatives of Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Since the last Council meeting, the security situation in Myanmar has continued to deteriorate and the humanitarian situation has worsened significantly. It is important not to forget Myanmar. It is impossible to forget the plight of the Rohingya.

We welcome the efforts of neighbouring countries, first and foremost Bangladesh, which has taken in almost a million refugees. To ensure that their return is voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable, we need to tackle the root causes of the crisis in Myanmar and in Rakhine State in particular.

Allow me to make three points in this regard:

Firstly, we condemn the escalation of armed conflict, which has intensified since the military coup. The increase in indiscriminate bombing in recent months is having a devastating impact on the civilian population. We are alarmed by the air strikes carried out by the military, in particular those on 18 March in Minbya township, which reportedly killed and injured many civilians. This is just one example, a particularly deadly one, but not an isolated one, as the Independent Investigation Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) reports, indicating that possible war crimes and crimes against humanity might have been committed. In this context, we recall the role of the International Criminal Court and our support for the Mechanism. All parties to the conflict must at all times respect international humanitarian law and their human rights obligations, as set out in Resolution 2669. The upsurge in violence makes it even more difficult to return to the negotiating table and find a political solution to the conflict. In Rakhine State in particular, the conflict is exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities and discrimination, while increasing inter-communal tensions. 

Secondly, restrictions on humanitarian access that prevent aid from reaching vulnerable communities must end. All parties have an obligation to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to civilians in need. Humanitarian access must be full, safe and unhindered, and the protection, safety and security of humanitarian and medical personnel must be fully ensured. In this regard, we also encourage ASEAN to fully implement the Five-Point Consensus.

Yesterday's thematic meeting on children in armed conflict focused on the consequences for children of being denied access to humanitarian aid. The fact that the military is reportedly increasing its use of forced recruitment, notably in Rakhine State, including of Rohingya, is of particular concern to us. Many young people are reportedly being conscripted against their will. We reiterate that children must not be recruited into armed forces or armed groups. These practices constitute serious violations against children in armed conflicts. We are also concerned about the gendered impact of forced conscription. This includes the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, long perpetrated by the military.

Thirdly, close coordination between the United Nations and regional actors, primarily ASEAN, is essential, including for mediation work and inclusive dialogue, as well as for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Addressing the needs on the ground requires determined and visible leadership from the UN to coordinate, in a nexus approach, humanitarian, diplomatic and development action in a conflict that is one of the most serious in the world. To this end, it is imperative to rapidly appoint a Special Envoy, also to ensure effective coordination and cooperation with ASEAN. The same applies to the position of UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, without which UN support risks losing effectiveness and credibility.

Madam President,

The Security Council must play a more active role in this matter. Switzerland is ready to support united and decisive action by developing a new Security Council product. Resolution 2669 must be followed up.

I thank you.


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