Authorities in Burma, also known as Myanmar, say they will not allow the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders to continue its work in troubled Rakhine State, home to Muslim minorities including the stateless Rohingya.
Presidential spokesman U Ye Htut told the Myanmar Freedom newspaper on Friday that the government would not extend the organization's working permit under a Memorandum of Understanding because the group lacked transparency in its work.
He criticized the group for saying that more than 40 Rohingya were killed in an attack in the remote northern part of the state last month. The government insists that only one Buddhist policeman died.
Doctors without Borders says it is "deeply shocked" by the decision and extremely concerned about the fate of tens of thousands of patients currently under its care. The group said its offices were closed for the first time ever in Myanmar, with patients unable to receive life-saving medicines and treatments.
The government refuses to officially recognize the Rohingya Muslim minority. It says members of any officially-recognized minority must be able to prove their ancestors lived in Burma before the British invaded Rakhine in 1823.
Many of Burma's hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims say their ancestors have lived in Burma for generations. But the impoverished minority group lacks the documentation to prove it.