An international humanitarian aid group has asked the government of Myanmar to give it access to help the Muslim Rohingya community in the county’s troubled Rakhine State.
Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told reporters in Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon, late on Wednesday that he had asked the government of Aung San Suu Kyi to give relief workers access to people suffering under dire conditions in parts of Myanmar.
The government has blocked access to areas where it is conducting a crackdown on the ethnic Rohingya minority.
“We would like to have access to all the people in need in order to do proper assessments, to help ease according to needs,” Maurer said.
This screen grab, taken on January 4, 2017 from a YouTube video, shows policemen cracking down on Rohingya Muslims in the village of Kotankauk during a police raid on November 5, 2016. (Via AFP)
Maurer has recently visited the northwestern state of Rakhine, where he toured camps set up almost five years ago to house those Rohingya Muslims displaced by Buddhist extremists. However, he was not allowed to visit the north of the state, where a security operation sent an estimated 75,000 Rohingya people fleeing to Bangladesh.
The Red Cross president said he was “unsatisfied” by the restriction imposed by Myanmar’s officials. He said he believed granting more access would be in the interest of both the government and the armed forces of Myanmar.
“At the end of the day there is no more effective tool to ease tensions than to offer fluid procedures for access to humanitarian organizations like us,” he said.
Maurer is set to travel to the capital, Naypyidaw, on Friday to meet officials and will meet Suu Kyi in Beijing during an international conference there next week, he said.
Former political prisoner Suu Kyi won a landslide in elections and became the de facto head of a civilian administration in April 2016 after decades of military rule.
A Rohingya boy sits in a burnt area after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Muslims in Rakhine State, May 3, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Myanmarese troops and police are accused of killing and raping Rohingyas, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar and widely viewed as outsiders by the majority Buddhists.
Since October 2016, Myanmar’s forces have been carrying out a military crackdown in Rakhine State, where the Rohingya community is mainly based, following a raid on a police post that was blamed on Rohingya-linked militants.
According to a report issued by the United Nations last month, Myanmar’s forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes against the Rohingya community.