Myanmar: Aid agency reveals framework of Rakhine return

Medecins Sans Frontieres expelled from area in February after said it had treated people believed to be victims of violence between local Buddhists and area's Muslim community.

Myanmar: Aid agency reveals framework of Rakhine return

World Bulletin / News Desk

Two months after being re-invited to Myanmar’s violence-torn western Rakhine state, a European-aid agency expelled for what authorities considered to be bias in favor of the area's Rohingya Muslim minority has revealed a framework of return.

According to a statement issued Wednesday by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the September 8 agreement covers medical activities in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states – along with the capital's Yangon region - and involves a two-year expenditure of $29.7 million.

It adds that consultations for the resumption of activities have “just begun” with local authorities and other stakeholders in Rakhine, where Buddhist extremists spearheaded a campaign against international aid agencies, accusing them of bias toward the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

The aid agency had been expelled from the area in February after it said it had treated people believed to be victims of violence between local Buddhists and the area's Muslim community.

In March, agency workers from other groups were temporarily evacuated after Buddhist mobs tore through the state capital Sittwe attacking their homes and offices.

The MSF expressed its commitment Wednesday to “continuing to engage in an open and transparent dialogue regarding our future activities in Rakhine and stands ready to resume operations in the state at any time.”

The memorandum seeks to increase cooperation to facilitate better treatment for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria patients – as well as providing primary health care, disease education and diagnosis, according to the statement, which also addressed coordination in the event of natural disasters or epidemic outbreaks.

Last week, Rakhine’s Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohme said, "MSF should very carefully resume aid operations here and stay away from any movement like lobbying for a group or individuals."

"They [MSF] should better focus on humanitarian efforts and build trust [with locals] with accountability and transparency," he added, after meeting with MSF representatives and a local emergency coordination committee established by Buddhists in March to monitor the efforts of international aid organizations.

Ethnic violence erupted in Sittwe in mid-2012 and has since spread across the country, leaving up to 280 dead and 140,000 displaced.

The majority of those displaced are Rohingya Muslims, who are confined to squalid camps by armed guards and checkpoints on the outskirts of Sittwe.

Last Mod: 24 Eylül 2014, 17:18
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