World Bulletin / News Desk
Myanmar’s government has vowed to provide security for aid workers trying to return to Rakhine state after they were forced to flee by Buddhist rioters who threw rocks at their homes and offices and ransacked warehouses.
A front-page report in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper Wednesday said that the government will "cooperate with [aid agencies] on all levels.”
The announcement comes amid an international outcry as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims face the prospect of an acute humanitarian crisis.
Around 140,000 Rohingya live in squalid camps in Rakhine, having fled brutal sectarian violence in 2012.
Their movements are severely restricted by barbed wire checkpoints manned by armed police, meaning it is often difficult or impossible to access urgent medical care.
The evacuation of aid workers has worsened an already dire humanitarian situation for the Rohingya, who now face additional shortages of food, water and medicine.
Aid workers have tried to return to the violence-hit state in recent days but have been refused access.
At the end of last month a hundreds-strong mob tore through Rakhine’s capital of Sittwe after a rumor spread that an aid agency worker had desecrated a Buddhist flag.
Buddhist extremists, along with senior officials in Myanmar's government, have accused foreign aid agencies of being biased in favor of the Rohingya.
The government vowed Wednesday to “expose the ringleaders” of the riots, in which an 11-year-old Buddhist Rakhine girl was accidentally killed by police firing warning shots.
A state-backed investigation into the Sittwe attacks admitted that the response of authorities was “sluggish.”
According to the New Light of Myanmar report, the mobs destroyed or damaged 16 homes, 14 offices, 15 warehouses and dozens of vehicles, including boats. Over US$400,000 worth of office equipment was also destroyed, it said.Last Mod: 09 Nisan 2014, 17:45