17 October 2017, London, UK – The Burma Human Rights Network has observed large scale food shortages throughout Rakhine State caused by restrictions on aid distribution for nearly all NGOs operating in the state besides the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who is working in coordination with Myanmar’s Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD). As a result several areas, which are dependent on aid, have gone long periods without any arriving. In the north of Rakhine State half the Rohingya population had already fled a military campaign the UN described as, “seeming like a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.” Those remaining in the north continue to flee at an alarming rate, but witness statements indicate they are doing so due to threat of starvation rather than a direct threat from the military. Similarly, food shortages have grown increasingly throughout the Rohingya areas in the rest of the state as new restrictions starting in September were imposed, preventing nearly all NGOs from delivering aid even outside of conflict areas. As a result there is legitimate cause for concern that a new exodus could also emerge from central Rakhine, not unlike the boat exoduses seen in the area in 2014.
In Northern Rakhine Villagers have informed BHRN of large scale fleeing occurring daily. A villager in Thayet Kin Manu, in Buthidaung, stated that of the 165 households in his village, 30 had already fled with another 60 making preparations to do the same in the coming day. The reason, he said was “due to total blockade or restrictions and [because of] starvation people are fleeing continuously.” Another villager also in rural Buthidaung told BHRN, “Lots of people have fled from our village because of starvation and most are daily workers. We are poor because the government confiscated our paddy [field] land to make an army barracks. Before we received assistance from WFP, but now we receive from no organization.” Villagers from Rathedaung, Maungdaw and Buthidaung all told of mass shortages of food, limited or no aid deliveries, promised aid deliveries never arriving and restrictions on movement preventing villagers from buying or seeking out food. In some cases aid deliveries are so small they are unable to sustain local population for more than a few days. In Gu Ta Pyin village the Government delivered 100 bags of rice to be divided among the entire remaining population, which only lasted them for 2 days. Further endangering these villagers are the limited number of routes which they are able to flee the country, where thousands have periodically found themselves stranded on beaches south of the Naf River in southern Maungdaw, where they are unable to flee and have been completely cut off from food while being exposed to the elements for days.
Members of The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) are available for comment and interview.
Executive Director of the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
T: +44(0) 740 345 2378
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