JST Opens A Centre for Humanitarian Studies in Yangon

A centre for humanitarian studies known as Myanmar Humanitarian Studies Centre (MHSC) set up by Joint Strategy Team (JST) was launched at Sanchaung Township in Yangon on Oct 18.

JST members, which comprises of major Kachin faith-based, community-based, and NGO organizations, have led most humanitarian efforts in Kachin State since the renewed war began in June 2011.

U Win Shwe, head of Yangon Region Relief and Resettlement Department and representatives from organizations such as UNHCR, OCHR, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Trocaire, WHH, BLO, ECO, NASC, and NAG attended the Tuesday’s event.

In an opening speech, 2013 Raymon Magsaysay Award winner Lahpai Seng Raw said, “The humanitarian response over the past 6 years in Kachin and northern Shan states, witnesses the Kachin CSOs thinking on a long term: the coming together of all CSOs under JST, their coordinated efforts, their endeavor on having one Kachin vision for the future, addressing the Education challenges, the Return & Resettlement strategy. We are proud of our accomplishment. I think the EAO KIO is the only EAO that has development and adopted Humanitarian policy in the face of adversity.” She added, “I trust this centre will be another vehicle for bringing about peace and security to our people. It will be another long term investment for all of us.”

Sai Sam Kham, the executive director of Metta Myanmar said, “I think MHSC is a very special initiative. First of all it is a local lead initiative to build humanitarian capacity in Myanmar. It is far ahead of the current global call for localizing humanitarian aid for a more effective and contextualized humanitarian action. Secondly, this is a brainchild of local humanitarian organisations, mainly from the conflicting ethnic areas. Despite of their heart wrenching experience of conflict and witnessing atrocities, impunities and human cost of war , their forward looking initiative offers a better strategic humanitarian preparedness and management capacity in Myanmar, which as we all notice, is rife with conflict as well as its state of poor preparedness to natural disasters. They contribute their hard learned lessons and skills to peace and transition in Myanmar with kindness and compassion.”

Regarding the plan of the newly established centre and its role on humanitarian relief efforts Sai Sam Kham said, “It initially starts with a few organisations to learn on some short courses. In the near future, MHSC will expand to diploma courses on strategic management on humanitarian action, humanitarian project management and humanitarian diplomacy. The ultimate goal is to start a bachlor degree course on humanitarian studies. This initiative will be open for anyone working with local or international humanitarian organizations.”

The main mission of the Humanitarian centre mentioned during the opening ceremony is “to improve the quality of Humanitarian Action in all its phases and components in Myanmar and Asia by educating excellent Humanitarian professionals that could provide strong ethical and managerial leadership as well as efficient and comprehensive management of humanitarian action”.