News / Asia

UN Envoy Urges Burma to Allow Aid Access to Rohingyas

A family sits at their temporary shelter in a Rohingya refugee camp as Burma's government embarks on a national census, in Sittwe, April 2, 2014.
A family sits at their temporary shelter in a Rohingya refugee camp as Burma's government embarks on a national census, in Sittwe, April 2, 2014.
Reuters
A U.N. envoy on Monday urged Burma, also known as Myanmar, to allow the return of aid groups forced to flee attacks in Rakhine state, warning their departure threatened "severe consequences" for Muslims sheltering in camps from violence by majority Buddhists.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, said water shortages could reach critical levels within a week in some displacement camps,where 140,000 people live as a result of communal conflict since 2012.

Some 700,000 people outside the camps are also vulnerable, the U.N. said in a statement.

"These workers were in Rakhine State providing essential life-saving support, including health services, water and food to internally displaced persons, isolated villages, and other affected communities," Quintana said.

Recent developments in Rakhine State were the latest in a long history of discrimination against the Muslim Rohingya community, which he said "could amount to crimes against humanity".

Trouble broke out on March 27 after rumors spread that a female international aid worker had desecrated a Buddhist flag.

Some 400 rioters massed outside Malteser International's office and began throwing stones before attacking other buildings occupied by aid groups and the U.N. Aid groups have long drawn the ire of some Rakhine Buddhists who accuse them of favoring the Rohingya, a group that makes up the vast majority of victims of the sectarian violence.

Humanitarian groups reject accusations of bias towards Muslims and many workers say they have been threatened and intimidated.

The Rakhine state government said last week that international aid organizations would be allowed to resume their work "later this month", but did not specify a date.

Aid workers say resuming the humanitarian effort will be difficult because local people, including subcontractors who transported food, have been warned not to work with international agencies.

"Every day that goes by there is an increased chance of people dying because they don't have access to medical services," said Pierre Peron, spokesman for United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"The clock is ticking," he said.

Britain on Monday summoned Burma's ambassador in London to call on the country to allow aid agencies to resume their work in Rakhine.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs