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Diplomats Urge Myanmar to Allow Aid in Rakhine State

  • VOA News

A Human Rights Network activist holds a sign during a demonstration against the persecution of Rohingiya Muslims in Myanmar, in Karachi, Pakistan, Dec. 9, 2016.

Fourteen diplomatic missions including the United States urged Myanmar to allow humanitarian aid into troubled Rakhine state, where tens of thousands of people in need have not had access to medicine or other assistance since a military operation began two months ago.

"The assistance is desperately needed to address serious humanitarian needs but also to begin to restore the confidence and hope that are essential to a restoration of peace and stability," the joint statement released Friday said, calling for "full and unfettered access" to aid.

The government has denied most journalists and aid access to Rakhine state since its counterinsurgency operation began two months ago, following the killing of nine border guards by unidentified attackers.

The government has, however, stated multiple times their intention to allow aid to be delivered to the area, where more than 80 people have died and over 20,000 have fled to Bangladesh.

"We have welcomed the Government's agreement to allow a resumption of humanitarian assistance and initial deliveries to some villages," said the statement. "But we are concerned by delays and urge all Myanmar authorities to overcome the obstacles that have so far prevented a full resumption, noting that tens of thousands of people who need humanitarian aid, including children with acute malnutrition, have been without it now for nearly two months."

After violence in 2012, more than 120,000 Muslim Rohingya were forced to live in holding camps amid reports of squalid conditions and tough restrictions on mobility.

Myanmar's state counselor and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has faced growing criticism for failing to tackle the violence. Human rights groups allege widespread abuses, including rape by Myanmar forces and the torching of hundreds of homes during the crackdown.

The joint statement was signed by Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey,

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