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This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Three months after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UNHCR, UNDP, and the Government of Myanmar, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and UNDP, the UN’s development agency, stand ready to commence assessment activities in 23 villages (as part of 13 village tracts), and 3 additional Village Tracts. These assessments would be a first, initial step only - with the expectation being that access will then be expanded to allow for the larger-scale comprehensive assessments that continue to be needed. Discussions have meanwhile been ongoing on the modalities of ‘effective access’ to all areas in Rakhine State covered by the MoU, namely the three townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung. 

Once authorizations for staff are received, assessments in these initial locations will start. The assessments in the initial list of village tracts are part of a broader work-plan that has been under discussion with Myanmar authorities since July. By commencing with needs assessments to identify and implement quick-impact projects, UNHCR and UNDP hope to jump start confidence building measures aimed at rebuilding trust and social cohesion with those communities that remain in Rakhine State.

Substantial progress however remains urgently needed in three key areas covered by the MoU: granting effective access in Rakhine State; ensuring freedom of movement for all communities; and addressing the root causes of the crisis, including a clear pathway to citizenship for those who are eligible. UNHCR and UNDP remain committed to the implementation of the MOU, and to supporting the Government of Myanmar’s efforts to find comprehensive and durable solutions to the crisis in Rakhine State.

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