United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to Myanmar in May 2008. Photo by: Mark Garten / U.N.

The United Nations is looking to resume its aid operations in Myanmar’s Kachin state after the government gave it the green light earlier this week.

The last U.N. aid delivery to the state happened in July. Kachin has seen sporadic fighting since the cease-fire agreement broke down in 2011, displacing more than 80,000 people.

“We would like to reach all parts of Kachin State where these people are,” Aye Win, a representative of the U.N. office in Yangon, told Devex.

The timetable for the operation is not yet certain, though. Aye Win said there needs to be an agreement on logistical details and guarantees of safety and security in place before aid delivery can proceed. Assistance would include food items such as rice, oil, pulses and salt and nonfood aid such as household sets, dignity kits, medicines, blankets, mosquito nets, clothing and waterguard.

The government previously said it wouldn’t allow foreign aid groups into the state for fear of their workers’ safety. But on Tuesday, Feb. 5, the government said it had agreed in principle to let international NGOs provide internally displaced people in Kachin with aid.

A day earlier, the Myanmar government and rebels came back to the negotiating table, with China hosting the talks. Another round of peace negotiations is due at the end of the month.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Feb. 6 he welcomed these latest developments.

“The secretary-general urges the parties to continue their efforts towards genuine and sustainable peace in Kachin and hopes that the latest developments would result in a silencing of the guns in Myanmar for the first time since its independence,” said a statement from Ban’s office.

With the resumption of peace talks, aid delivery has gotten easier, according to local aid groups.

But “we can’t say how long it will last,” said La Rip, coordinator of Relief Action Network for IDPs and Refugees, as quoted by IRIN. “There is always the possibility fighting could erupt again.”

The lingering conflict has cast a shadow on the government’s reform efforts, which have largely won praise from the international community. Last month, in what is seen as a culmination of a campaign to win back donors’ confidence, the country held its first development cooperation forum, and the Asian Development Bank and World Bank announced they were fully resuming their operations there.

Officials from both banks visited Myanmar this week, reaffirming their commitment to help it reduce poverty.

Afterward, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda, who met with Myanmar President Thein Sein, highlighted the importance for Myanmar to be fully integrated into the Mekong subregion and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Greater immersion in regional cooperation initiatives, he said, will allow Myanmar to take advantage of energy and economic connectivity and access regional financial and capital markets.

The recent visit of World Bank officials was meant to ease worries of foreign investors about the risk of doing business in the country.

Myanmar is in discussions to be part of the World Bank arm that provides risk guarantees to investors, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Already, MIGA is looking ahead.

“We can work with the government of Myanmar to provide risk guarantees to investors,” MIGA Vice President Michel Wormser said Feb 5. “This would help them obtain financing at competitive rates, speeding up project implementation.”

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About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.