Displaced Villagers In Rakhine State Urgently Need Aid

By Network Media Group
Thursday, April 16, 2020

Civil societies want help from the government to feed thousands of new internally displaced persons (IDPs) following weeks of hostilities between the Burma Army and Arakan Army (AA) in Burma’s western Rakhine State.

Since the end of March about 30,000 villagers have been displaced in Kyauktaw, Rathaytaung and Minbya townships and most aren’t receiving any support from the government, Zaw Zaw Tun, the general secretary of Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC), told NMG.

Basic food packages provided by international donors of rice, beans and cooking oil have been distributed to some areas but other camps haven’t received anything. IDPs told NMG the Burma Army is blocking aid workers that are trying to visit some of the camps to do headcounts to determine how many people are in need.

“Locals have been giving as much food as they can,” said Oo Tun Win, an MP for Kyauktaw township, but with thousands of new IDPs it’s not enough. When fighting broke out near their villages they had to flee and couldn’t bring much stuff with them, he said.

With little or no support for several weeks, the displaced villagers are struggling to survive, Ko Khine Myo Tun, a human rights activist from Sittwe, told NMG.

The monsoon season, starting at the end of April, will pose new challenges for IDPs living in temporary shelters without enough food, Oo Tun Win said. For the others that are sheltering in public schools, they’ll have to move once classes resume.

Human Rights Watch called the displacement camps “tinderboxes” during the coronavirus pandemic in an article posted on its website.“Overcrowding, a mobile internet shutdown, blocks on humanitarian aid, and movement restrictions have left displaced communities in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan, Chin, and Karen States especially vulnerable to a virus outbreak,” the New York based rights group said.

There are eleven townships that are affected by the fighting. They are Minbya, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun, Mraybon, Ann, Rathaytaung, Buthitaung, Maungdaw, Sittwe and Pauktaw.
According to REC, there are more than 150,000 IDPs in Rakhine State.