The following statement has been issued today by the United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and International Solidarity, Rudi Muhammed Rizki, and the Representative of the Secretary General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Walter Kälin.
The experts wish to express their condolences to and deep concern for the people of Myanmar, affected by the devastating cyclone Nargis that left thousands of people dead and many thousands missing, homeless and displaced.
This humanitarian catastrophe has mobilized a global response, triggering emergency humanitarian aid and other necessary measures, which demonstrates international solidarity and underscores a communion of interest and collective responsibility on the part of governments, United Nations and humanitarian organizations.
The experts reiterate the appeal of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Government of Myanmar to respond to the outpouring of international support and solidarity, which must be respected by removing all structural and other obstacles in order for the affected population to enjoy their right to receive, and for the international community to deliver, much needed emergency relief and aid.
The experts recall that persons affected by natural disasters enjoy the same rights and freedoms as any other persons, in particular with regard to access to food and potable water, basic shelter and housing, appropriate clothing as well as essential medical services and sanitation.
International solidarity should be directed at protecting the human rights of people, particularly the most vulnerable populations among those affected by this disaster. In a country where an estimated 90% of the population live below the poverty line and where women and children make up 60% of the population there is an urgent and crucial need for international cooperation not only in short-term relief and recovery but also in long-term reconstruction efforts. The obligation of international cooperation is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Declaration on the Right to Development and in the Millennium Declaration.