Nay Pyi Taw November 27
A Myanmar diplomat yesterday protested allegations by a senior UN official of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State.
The claims of John McKissick, a member of UNHCR staff based in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, were allegedly made in a BBC news report aired on 24 November.
U Htin Lin, the Myanmar permanent representative and ambassador in Geneva, described the allegations of McKissick as baseless and in breach of the code of conduct of United Nations staff. U Htin Lin lodged a complaint to Assistant High Commissioner Mr Volker Turk of the UNHCR yesterday, according to the Information Committee of the State Counsellor’s Office.
Under the instruction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U Htin Lin requested to meet with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees concerning John McKissick’s “one-sided and baseless” allegations in a BBC news report, which the ambassador reiterated were contrary to the code of conduct of a UN staff member and damaged the cooperation and trust in the operations of the UNHCR. The Myanmar ambassador met with Assistant High Commissioner (Protection) Mr Volker Turk of the UNHCR at its headquarters and lodged a complaint. The high commissioner was abroad and the deputy high commissioner was said to be too busy to meet with the Myanmar ambassador.
The Myanmar ambassador urged the assistant high commissioner to verify whether John McKissick actually made the statements to the BBC, and to refute and protest the allegations if he made the statements. The ambassador also pointed out that those statements breach the code of conduct of the UN, damage the image of the UNHCR and Myanmar and the government, before requesting the assistant high commissioner to verify the statements and Myanmar may lodge a complaint if necessary.
The assistant high commissioner told the ambassador that he was surprised to learn the statements of Mr McKissick after he had returned from abroad the day before. Mr Volk said that McKissick made the statements in his capacity as an individual and that they do not represent the position of the UNHCR. The assistant high commissioner also promised to find ways to take further action and to inform the ambassador in accordance with the request of the ambassador, saying that the UNHCR is desirous of continued cooperation of the Myanmar government and its people and will continue to provide assistance.
The press release of the information committee also said that the UNHCR is responsible for the “verification and clarification of the unethical and fabricated statements of Mr John Mckissick, because a UN staff member should observe ethics and the code of conduct of the organisation as the UNHCR is a UN agency and it is not acceptable that the media spread fake news under the name of the UN”.
The Myawady Daily