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Myanmar pitches crisis-hit Rakhine to investors

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:30s - Published < > Embed
Myanmar pitches crisis-hit Rakhine to investors

Myanmar pitches crisis-hit Rakhine to investors

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for investment in the crisis-hit western state of Rakhine on Friday, saying the world had "focused narrowly on negative aspects" in the state from which some 730,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled since 2017.

Michelle Hennessy reports.


Myanmar pitches crisis-hit Rakhine to investors

Myanmar is looking to attract investors to the crisis-hit state of Rakhine.

Pitching its tourist-ready beaches and ample farmland as open for business.

Leader Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at an investment fair on Friday, touting what she called the immense potential for peace and development in the area.

She made only a brief reference to the violent conflict that has sparked an exodus of Rohingya Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh: (SOUNDBITE) (English) MYANMAR STATE COUNSELLOR, AUNG SAN SUU KYI, SAYING: "For too long the international community's attention has been focused narrowly on negative aspects related to problems in Northern Rakhine rather than on the panoramic picture" More than 350 investors are expected to attend the conference, mingling with local entrepreneurs and officials on Rakhine's coast.

Reuters' Simon Lewis was there: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS' SIMON LEWIS, SAYING: "The outbreak of violence here in Rakhine state in recent years has seen foreign investment drop off for the whole of Myanmar and there's been a real drop in Western tourists coming here.

[...] Some experts are concerned that with hundreds of thousands of refugees still languishing in camps across the border in Bangladesh now is not the right time to be talking about investment in Rakhine.

But the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi says that the narrative about Myanmar needs to switch away from the negative talk of northern Rakhine and she's trying to bring more investment through this fair [...] The organizers of this event and some investors say that it's better to engage with Myanmar rather than isolate it at this time and investment can help improve conditions for all communities." Around 100 miles north of where the conference is being held, Muslim residents are barred from returning to their homes nearly seven years after they fled communal clashes.

And since an outbreak of violence in 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya remain trapped in camps and villages in the state, where their movements and access to things like health care and education remain restricted.

Some experts are warning that purely economic solutions in this region could further marginalize the mostly stateless Rohingya.

Myanmar denies allegations of mass killings and rape, and says it's been ready to accept returning refugees since January.

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