You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

Diplomats who toured Myanmar's Rakhine want access for aid

AP  |  Bangkok 

A group of 20 foreign diplomats who visited Myanmar's Rakhine state, where half a million ethnic Rohingya Muslims fled recent violence, have urged the government to allow access by humanitarian groups and by a United Nations fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of human rights violations.

But the president's office spokesman, Zaw Htay, told The Associated Press today the government will stick by its earlier decision to bar the UN mission. It has said the group, assembled after similar violence last October, is interfering in Myanmar's affairs.

The diplomats, taken yesterday on a guided government tour of the affected area, said in a joint statement that there is a dire need for humanitarian aid.

The crisis in Rakhine has drawn international concern because of the exodus of more than 500,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh in just a month's time. The violence began when the army retaliated for raids on government security posts on August 25 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an insurgent group.

Human rights groups charge that the army has abused and killed civilians and burned down thousands of homes. Rohingya are considered by many in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar to have poached land after immigrating illegally from Bangladesh. Advocates for the Rohingya insist many families have lived on the land for generations.

The diplomats' statement condemned the insurgents' initial attacks as well as the violence that followed it.

"We saw villages which had been burned to the ground and emptied of inhabitants. The violence must stop," it said. "The security forces have an obligation to protect all people in Rakhine without discrimination and to take measures to prevent acts of arson."

They also said they encouraged the Myanmar government "to move quickly to enable the voluntary, dignified and safe return to their places of origin of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled to Bangladesh."

"We saw on our visit the dire humanitarian need. We call once more for unimpeded humanitarian access to northern Rakhine and resumption of life-saving services without discrimination throughout the state," they wrote.

Representatives of UN agencies were also on yesterday's tour.

In a separate letter, the UN office in Myanmar said the visit "was a positive step and such visits, under appropriate conditions, could help in our efforts to explore potential areas where the UN could cooperate with the Myanmar authorities in alleviating the dire situation in northern Rakhine.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Wed, October 04 2017. 00:42 IST