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MSF suspends medical activities in northern Rakhine state, Myanmar

June 27th, 2024  •  Author:   Médecins Sans Frontières  •  3 minute read
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The extreme escalation of conflict, indiscriminate violence, and severe restrictions on humanitarian access in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, have forced Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to suspend medical humanitarian activities in the townships of Rathedaung, Buthidaung and Maungdaw. MSF ran 14 mobile clinics in northern Rakhine providing essential medical services to all communities, including Rakhine, Rohingya and other minority groups who often had no other access to healthcare.

We are very concerned for the people who have been severely impacted by the conflict. They continue to endure and remain exposed to the deliberate destruction of lives and property, forced recruitment, displacements, and restricted humanitarian access with no options to seek safety due to the ongoing clashes and hostilities. This indefinite suspension of our activities will leave them with zero access to healthcare in the face of huge needs.

A Rohingya person who was forced to flee from the clashes in Buthidaung told us: “It would be an honour if a bomb killed all of us together, so we don’t have to suffer anymore. Dying together is better than this suffering.”

Since November 2023, MSF teams have been unable to run regular healthcare services in the wider areas of both central and northern Rakhine. We have faced severe restrictions on humanitarian access such as difficulties in delivering care to our patients and facilitating referrals to the Township hospitals, inability to move medical and basic supplies, and bear witness to the total decimation of the healthcare system. All communities are without proper primary and secondary healthcare and our teams observed pregnant women and unborn babies losing their lives due to the lack of healthcare. MSF recorded nine maternal deaths or stillbirths between November 2023 and March 2024. On 15 April, the MSF office and pharmacy in Buthidaung were burned down, in this area where both private and public health facilities were already non- functional.

Despite not being able to provide care in the area currently, MSF remains committed to providing much needed humanitarian support to patients and people in northern Rakhine. We will continue to maintain our presence in northern Rakhine that will enable us to immediately resume activities as soon as conditions improve.

We are calling on all parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian access in Rakhine State and respect the protected status of healthcare facilities and staff. Access to medical care for the most vulnerable communities must be restored immediately to prevent further senseless loss of life and suffering.


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