U.N. envoy urges Myanmar to allow aid access to Rohingyas

YANGON Tue Apr 8, 2014 12:57am IST

A Rohingya man carries his child while members of the police force and volunteers are seen at a Rohingya refugee camp as Myanmar's government embarks on a national census, in Sittwe April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

A Rohingya man carries his child while members of the police force and volunteers are seen at a Rohingya refugee camp as Myanmar's government embarks on a national census, in Sittwe April 2, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

Related Topics

YANGON (Reuters) - A U.N. envoy on Monday urged Myanmar to allow the return of aid groups forced to flee attacks in Rakhine state, warning their departure threatened "severe consequences" for Muslims sheltering in camps from violence by majority Buddhists.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, said water shortages could reach critical levels within a week in some displacement camps, where 140,000 people live as a result of communal conflict since 2012.

Some 700,000 people outside the camps are also vulnerable, the U.N. said in a statement.

"These workers were in Rakhine State providing essential life-saving support, including health services, water and food to internally displaced persons, isolated villages, and other affected communities," Quintana said.

Recent developments in Rakhine State were the latest in a long history of discrimination against the Muslim Rohingya community, which he said "could amount to crimes against humanity".

Trouble broke out on March 27 after rumours spread that a female international aid worker had desecrated a Buddhist flag. Some 400 rioters massed outside Malteser International's office and began throwing stones before attacking other buildings occupied by aid groups and the U.N.

Aid groups have long drawn the ire of some Rakhine Buddhists who accuse them of favouring the Rohingya, a group that makes up the vast majority of victims of the sectarian violence.

Humanitarian groups reject accusations of bias towards Muslims and many workers say they have been threatened and intimidated.

The Rakhine state government said last week that international aid organizations would be allowed to resume their work "later this month", but did not specify a date.

Aid workers say resuming the humanitarian effort will be difficult because local people, including subcontractors who transported food, have been warned not to work with international agencies.

"Every day that goes by there is an increased chance of people dying because they don't have access to medical services," said Pierre Peron, spokesman for United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"The clock is ticking," he said.

Britain on Monday summoned Myanmar's ambassador in London to call on the country to allow aid agencies to resume their work in Rakhine.

(Reporting by Jared Ferrie and Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Martin Petty and Andrew Roche) nL3N0MZ314

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Reforms Plan

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Border Tensions

Border Tensions

India names Ajit Doval as special envoy for China border talks.  Full Article 

Easing Congestion

Easing Congestion

India targets private cash to build railways to its ports.  Full Article 

First Casualty

First Casualty

Jindal Steel shelves $10 bln project after coal setback.  Full Article 

Global Trade Dispute

Global Dispute

U.S. seeks to step up India trade talks after WTO deal.  Full Article 

Budget Airline

Budget Airline

SpiceJet says in early talks with investors for fresh capital.  Full Article 

Iran Talks

Iran Talks

Iran nuclear talks extended 7 months after failing to meet deadline.  Full Article 

Obama Aide Quits

Obama Aide Quits

Hagel resigns as U.S. defence secretary, official says.  Full Article 

Clarke In

Clarke In

Clarke in first test team, but must prove fitness.  Full Article 

Glory Days

Glory Days

Hamilton leaves the partying for later.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage