Myanmar urged to allow passage of aid to Muslim-majority areas

October 21, 2016 6:50 pm

This photo taken on October 15, 2016, shows displaced people being evacuated by ’s troops in Rakhine state. (Photo by AFP)

Humanitarian agencies and rights groups have urged Myanmar to allow the passage of much-needed aid to the restricted Muslim-majority areas that they have no access to.
Amnesty International said on Thursday that the latest government crackdown on Muslims had “aggravated what was already a serious humanitarian situation in the country.”
“The Myanmar authorities must immediately lift restrictions preventing the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies from reaching people in need,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty’s Southeast and the Pacific director.
Brad Adams, with the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said Myanmar’s officials were required by law to act in “a manner that respects human rights, ensures that the area’s people get the aid they need, and allows journalists and rights monitors into the area.”
The World Food Programme has also complained that it remains unable to access 50,000 people in need of food aid in Maungdaw township, which has been at the center of violence, but it hopes to regain access to nearby Buthidaung township by next week.
“After several days with no access to these areas, WFP hopes to be able to resume its regular support for some 37,000 people by next week,” said regional spokeswoman Silke Buhr.
“This includes distributions of cash for vulnerable households and nutrient-dense supplementary food for pregnant women and young children,” she said.
Myanmar’s troops have gone on rampage through the northern state of Rakhine, claiming to seek armed men who launched a coordinated assault on border posts.
The Myanmar military has declared the area an “operation zone” and has tightly controlled the flow of information since suspected militants seized dozens of weapons in raids on the border posts on October 9.
Officials say armed men killed nine police officers and made off with dozens of weapons and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
While the identity of the attackers is not known yet, some officials have been quick to accuse the Rohingya Muslim community for the attacks, while others have pointed the finger at suspected Bangladeshi militants.

This file photo shows a Myanmar police officer standing guard at a refugee camp for the minority Muslim Rohingyas in Sittwe. (Photo by AFP)

Myanmar’s recent military crackdown has raised the specter of a repeat of the 2012 unrest, when Buddhist extremists killed scores of Muslims and torched their property across Rakhine, forcing tens of thousands from their homes.
The Rohingya, as well as other Muslim minorities in Myanmar, have been long-time victims of torture, neglect and persecution.
Human rights groups have described the Rohingya Muslims as one of the world’s most persecuted peoples who face severe deprivations by the government due to their restricted movement and denied access to basic services.
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