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UN calls on Myanmar government to stop blocking aid to displaced

8 December 2012 11:15

The United Nations has called on Myanmar’s government to stop blocking aid to thousands of displaced people in the country, and once again expressed concern about the living conditions of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

On Friday, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said almost half a million people are displaced and “in need of assistance” in Myanmar.

The UN envoy ended a four-day visit to camps in the country’s western and northern regions on Friday.

“Humanitarian needs have increased and this is a major concern,” she said, adding that the conditions at a camp for stateless Rohingya Muslims are “dire” and it is “shockingly overcrowded.” Even in camps where basic needs are being met, there is concern about “peoples’ future.”

“Children have been out of school for up to six months, the men are not able to provide for their families and there is a general sense of hopelessness.”

Amos said Myanmar should allow humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced people.

“For almost six months now the UN has not been able to provide assistance to almost 40,000 people as we are not permitted to go to KIA-controlled areas,” she stated, referring to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Stocks of our local partners “are depleted and with the winter months approaching, getting more supplies in is critical,” Amos said.

According to UN statistics, nearly 115,000 people have been forced out of their homes as a result of escalating sectarian violence between Muslim communities and Buddhist extremists in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.

Human Rights Watch recently said satellite images showed that the Buddhist extremists carried out attacks against the Rohingyas with the support of state security forces and local government officials in October.

The rights group has also reported accounts of “gruesome casualties” including beheadings and killings of women and children due to the ethnic violence.

Some 800,000 Rohingyas are deprived of citizenship rights and suffer most from the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of naturalization, and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion and displacement.

Myanmar’s government refuses to lift stateless Rohingyas in Rakhine from the citizenship limbo despite international pressure to give the minority a legal status.

The Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect and repression since Myanmar achieved independence in 1948.

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