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Photo: Kjetil Elsebutangen/MFA.Photo: Kjetil Elsebutangen/MFA

Deputy Foreign Minister Torgeir Larsen visits Myanmar's Mon and Kayin states

Last updated: 27.05.2013 // Mr. Torgeir Larsen, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, visited Myanmar on 13-15 May 2013. The main purpose of his visit was to reaffirm Norway's support to the peace process and political reforms in Myanmar and to get first hand impressions from the field on the changes taking place on the ground – in Mon and Kayin areas. This was Mr. Larsen's second visit to Myanmar in one year, and the 11th political visit from Norway to Myanmar since 2009.

People waiting for ID cards in Kayin state. Photo: Kjetil Elsebutangen/MFA.
People waiting for ID cards in Kayin state. Photo: Kjetil Elsebutangen/MFA 

Beginning his visit to Myanmar in Yangon, he met with civil society organisations and participated in a meeting of the Peace Donor Support Group, which is led by Norway. The meeting was attended by Minister for the President’s Office U Aung Min, who is working with the peace process. He then travelled, accompanied by Minister for Rail Transport U Zayar Aung to Mon State and had meetings with representatives of local authorities, civil society and the ceasefire group New Mon State Party (NMSP), before continuing to Kayin State.

In Kayin, Mr. Larsen and Myanmar Minister for Immigration U Khin Yi went into the ceasefire zone controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), accompanied by members of KNU and their armed branch, Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). Here, he participated in a ceremony whereby residents of remote, conflict-affected areas were given ID cards to increase their freedom of movement and security. A means of identification is important for accessing public services, like hospitals and schools, but many in the country have never had any official documentation of their identity. He also visited the Vocational Training and Life Skill Centre, a project run by the Norwegian Refugee Council to give vocational training to young men and women.

The ID card project - a cooperation between the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Ministry of Immigration and Population - started in 2012, and to date, identity cards have been issued to citizens in conflict-affected areas of Kayah State, Kayin State, and plans are commencing for Eastern Bago, Southern Shan and Tanintharyi Region. The initial 2012 phase was funded by Norway with additional EU and Swiss funding commencing in January 2013. As of January 2013, approximately 80,000 people had received ID cards through this project, which has been an important demonstration of the Myanmar Government, international community and Non-State Army Groups working together to provide these services.

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