By HTUN HKAING | FRONTIER
YANGON — The country’s largest telecoms operator, Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, has invited customers to donate money to those displaced within the country by the recent crisis in Rakhine State.
In a statement published on Tuesday, the operator invited customers to donate money “in support of local people seeking safety from the clashes with ARSA extremist terrorists” in Rakhine State via SMS donations.
The statement is a reference to the attacks launched by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on August 25 that saw about a dozen security personnel killed in northern Rakhine. Myanmar’s government has declared ARSA a terrorist organisation.
The military’s response to the attacks has seen more than 500,000 people – mainly Muslims who identify as Rohingya – flee across the border into Bangladesh. Many of those arriving have accused security forces of using disproportionate force in their operations, a charge the military and civilian government have continuously denied.
About 30,000 non-Muslims – including Rakhine, Mro and Hindus – have been displaced in government-controlled areas inside Rakhine State.
MPT customers can donate funds by texting a number, after which K500 will be removed from the customer’s credit balance and donated to the fund.
“All aid received from this SMS drive will be donated on behalf of MPT’s users to provide urgent food baskets and shelters for the victims of violence in Rakhine, in the spirit of national unity through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement,” said the statement.
U Khin Maung Tun, managing director of MPT said in the statement that the company’s thoughts are “very much with the communities displaced from the affected areas of Rakhine.”
“We are gravely concerned and saddened by the conflict which has resulted in the loss of many lives and homes,” he said.
In September 2015, the company raised almost K300 million through the same channels for people affected by heavy flooding that year, as well as K160 million for those affected by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Bagan in August 2016.
The military’s clearance operation has been met with large-scale support within Myanmar, and the statement made no reference to those displaced abroad.