Sunday, April 20, 2014

Myanmar's Rohingya face a humanitarian crisis

April 20, 2014.

Displaced Muslim Rohingya do not have adequate access to healthcare or clean water.

The Rohingya were rendered stateless by a 
citizenship law passed in 1982 [Reuters]
Sittwe, Myanmar - Ruk and Kun Suma were born five minutes apart on March 27 in a camp for displaced Rohingya in Rakhine State, a northwestern province of Myanmar. Their mother, an emaciated 40-year-old woman named Noor Begun, suffers from tuberculosis and is unable to breastfeed them. The family cannot afford milk either. For the first two weeks of their lives, Ruk and Kuma received only cheap coffee creamer from the tip of Noor's fingers.

The twins need urgent medical care to survive, but there are no medical doctors stationed in the nine overcrowded camps near Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, where more than 75,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) live.

Since the explosion of violence in June 2012 between the Rohingya Muslim minority and the Rakhine Buddhist majority that left 140 dead, entire villages razed to the ground and at least 140,000 IDPs - the overwhelming majority of them Muslims - the Rohingya living in the camps have relied on aid provided by international agencies.

In early March, Myanmar's government decided to expel Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF-Doctors Without Borders) from Rakhine State after the NGO declared it had treated 22 people in the remote Maungdaw region who were injured in beatings and knife attacks. At least 40 Rohingya had been killed there by Rakhine mobs and Burmese security forces in January, according to the UN and human rights groups. The Myanmar government, which has not allowed independent observers to access the area, forcefully denies the attacks took place.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut said the government would not extend the NGO's permit to operate in Rakhine State, and accused it of not being transparent and giving preferential treatment towards "Bengalis" - the term the government and many Myanmar citizens use for the Rohingya, implying they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite the fact they have been living in Rakhine for generations.

The Rohingya were rendered stateless by a citizenship law passed in 1982 and, according to a report recently released by Fortify Rights, have been the victims of crimes against humanity at the hand of Myanmar's government and local authorities.

The expulsion of MSF deprived 750,000 people, including Buddhist Rakhines but mostly Rohingyas, of virtually any healthcare - and has led to dozens, if not hundreds, of deaths. The situation got worse a month later when mobs of infuriated Rakhines attacked the offices of several aid agencies in Sittwe, after a worker from Malteser International took down a Buddhist flag from the organisation's office. About 150 international workers from Malteser and other organisations were evacuated from Rakhine, and have not yet returned.
Read the rest here.
Comment: The genocide of the Rohingya continues and still no word of humanitarian conviction from Aung San Suu Kyi.


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