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Updated On: Saturday, November 18 2017

Reconciliation Project in Myanmar

Content by: South-South News

10 July 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, visited a UNHCR supported project in Maungdaw, Myanmar, aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence through vocational training classes.

The project brings together 20 Muslim and Rakhine women to learn sewing skills and basic literacy, as well as health and hygiene education. Rakhine is a predominately Buddhist region of Myanmar which has been the site of violence between the two communities. Although they would appear to have little in common, many of these women have either had no education or had to drop out of school to support their families.

Lailya is a single mother and a Muslim “We didn’t know them,” she said, “We now have very good relationship. I used to be afraid of them.” May Than Nwe is from the Rakhine community. “I feel that working with these participants as if I had known them before. I would like to maintain this relationship after the class,” she said.

The joint project is funded by UNHCR and the NGO “Bridge Asia Japan.”

Grandi said, “Not only do they find the course useful to learn skills, that will give them an income but also for the first time they could sit and speak together with other members of the community.”

The women say they will maintain their friendship beyond the classroom.

“It is important, it’s better to have solidarity, if there is solidarity between communities. It’s better for the country,” May said

UNHCR is working on bringing more projects like this to Myanmar. “This is a small little seed that you plant but I think it’s important,” Grandi added.

On his first official visit to the South-East Asian nation, Grandi appealed to communities in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state to unite in the face of fear, mistrust and underdevelopment. He met with displaced people, local communities and the authorities in Sittwe and Maungdaw townships to better understand their needs and challenges.

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