Update on Norwegian assistance to Myanmar

The military coup on 1 February has changed the conditions for Norway’s development assistance in Myanmar. For this reason, Norway is now freezing the state-to-state knowledge-development programmes between public institutions in Norway and Myanmar.

‘Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia, and the coup will make the situation for its inhabitants even more difficult. While we are freezing the state-to-state programmes, we have concluded that we must continue to channel support through the UN and civil society organisations to vulnerable groups, and ethnic and religious minorities, amongst others,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.

In Norway’s aid budget for 2021, NOK 66.5 million has been allocated to cooperation aimed at strengthening expertise and capacity in Myanmar’s public institutions in areas such as renewable energy, environment and climate change, sustainable oceans, the Fish for Development programme and the Oil for Development programme. The value in the knowledge-development programmes lies primarily in the use of Norwegian experts’ time and involves transfer of funds to a very small degree. In 2019, Norway provided NOK 279 million in bilateral aid to Myanmar. In addition, Norway contributed NOK 105 million in core support to the efforts of UN organisations and development banks in Myanmar. 

‘Norway was one of the first countries to condemn the military coup on Monday 1 February and has demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected politicians, journalists and representatives of civil society organisations. Norway has also asked those responsible for the coup to adhere to democratic norms, reinstate the Government and respect the outcome of the November 2020 election’, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

‘Representatives of democratic forces and civil society organisations in Myanmar have stated clearly that they still need political and economic support from the international community. Therefore we will not stop all of our activities in Myanmar. We will also continue to support efforts to promote peace and democracy, protect human rights and provide humanitarian aid,’ said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As a member of the UN Security Council, Norway has worked to include the coup on the UN Security Council agenda. For the first time since 2018, the Security Council members agreed to issue a joint press statement on the situation in Myanmar. This is a positive development, and sends a clear message to those responsible for the coup. The press statement issued by the 15 members of the Security Council on 4 February expressed their deep concern at the declaration of the state of emergency and called for the immediate release of all those detained.