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Myanmar: EU urges humanitarian access to Rakhine state

16th May 2017
Myanmar: EU urges humanitarian access to Rakhine state

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

 

YANGON, Myanmar (AA) – A top EU official on Monday called on Myanmar’s government to grant full humanitarian access to the western Rakhine state, decrying the worsening situation since the military locked down the area last year.

“During my visit I saw that malnutrition rates have deteriorated after the recent crisis,” said European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides after a two-day visit to Rakhine’s northern Maungdaw area to assess the humanitarian situation there.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Myanmar), more than 70,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Maungdaw area since the military began a clearance operation last October following the deaths of nine police officers in attacks on border posts.

During the operation, the UN and rights groups have documented widespread abuses by security forces such as killings — including of children and babies — gang rapes, brutal beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances.

Stylianides on Friday announced the allocation of over 12 million euros in new funding for direct humanitarian assistance to communities affected by conflict in the country, including Rakhine.

“Our humanitarian partners are helping government authorities develop a food, security, and nutrition strategy for this region,” he said after his first visit to the area.

“But we still need better humanitarian access in order to facilitate a quick and full response by aid agencies to assist all affected communities,” he added.

Meanwhile, London-based Burmese Rohingya Organization U.K. (BROUK) published a new report that contains evidence Rohingya have been targeted in an organized manner by state forces in northern Rakhine state during military operations since last October.

“What is new about the material contained in this report is that it documents, through photographs, testimony and forensic analysis, physical evidence of attacks against civilians,” BROUK said in its report.

The report was based on more than two dozen interviews with Rohingya refugees in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh, who fled the Maungdaw area last year.

Evidence of gunshots and other weapon wounds were checked against information collected by international groups working in the refugee camps, according to the report.

BROUK urged the government to further investigate the physical evidence of abuses against civilians in the area.

“The government should cooperate with the UN fact finding mission into the violence that took place following October 9th,” it said.

UNOCHA said last week that the government has granted international staff access to affected villages in Maungdaw area for the first time in six months, but only on the condition that they are accompanied by government officials.

“It is particularly important to help Rohingya civilians who have suffered involuntary displacements as well as supporting their livelihoods,” said the agency.

[Photo: Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi in Brussels, Belgium on May 2, 2017. Photographer: Muhabiri Dursun Aydemir/AA]

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