After violence, WFP to reinstate food aid to Rakhine IDPs

By OLIVER SLOW | FRONTIER

YANGON — The World Food Programme is to reinstate food aid to internally displaced persons in Rakhine State, who had been removed from rations lists earlier this year, after violence hit northern parts of the state last week.

WFP confirmed to Frontier that the aid, which was halted IDPs in seven townships in July and August, will be reintroduced within the next week.

The affected townships are Kyauktaw, Minbya and Mrauk-U, an area known as “zone one”, as well as Myebon, Pauktaw, Sittwe and Rathedaung.

In the early hours of October 9, militants attacked three outposts in northern Rakhine State, killing nine police officers. One of the attacks took place at a police outpost in Kotankauk village, Rathedaung Township.

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There has been renewed tension between Buddhist and Muslim communities in the restive state since the attacks. In response, there has been a heavy security presence in the area in the past week.

The initial cuts were part of a strategy by WFP to “scale down WFP relief assistance and to support the transition to recovery in [parts of] Rakhine State,” according to a plan seen by Frontier.

“[The decision] is due to the recent security incidents and subsequent violence that has taken place in northern Rakhine State,” Mr Arsen Sahakyan, WFP’s partnership officer, told Frontier. “WFP is concerned about the risk of the violence potentially spreading beyond to the rest of the state and causing further tensions in the communities.”

Food rations will be reinstated to 6,000 IDPs in Rakhine State who had been excluded from the “targeted protracted relief beneficiary list of the most vulnerable,” said Sahakyan. “This means all 22,000 former and now resettled IDPs will now receive food assistance.”

The measures will remain in place until the security situation has been stabilised in Rakhine State, said Sahakyan.

“WFP still stands by its needs-based vulnerability assessment. This decision is an urgent conflict-sensitive measure and wholly in the interests of not causing any further tensions in those host communities.”

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