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Singapore Urges Burma To Rethink Closing of Red Cross Offices


Officials in Singapore have urged Burma's military government to reconsider its decision to halt Red Cross humanitarian efforts in Burmese border regions.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Tuesday saying it regrets Burma's reported decision to force the International Committee of the Red Cross to its close field offices in five border regions, Mandalay, Mawlamyine, Hpa-an, Taunggyi and Kyaing Tong.

The ministry in Singapore says the decision does not bode well for Burma's relations with the international community.

It urged Burma's government to re-engage the Red Cross and find an amicable solution to allow the group to resume its operations.

In a statement Monday, the Red Cross said the closures have made it effectively impossible to provide assistance and protection to Burmese civilians living in areas where ethnic minorities are often in conflict with the government.

The group says Burma also has refused to allow Red Cross workers to resume visits to political prisoners. Burma ordered a stop to the prison visits in December 2005.

The Red Cross has urged Burma's government to address urgent humanitarian issues, but to no avail.

The last meeting between the agency and Burmese officials took place in Geneva earlier this month.

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