NGO urges increased pressure on govt over aid access to northern Rakhine

The Norwegian Refugee Council called on the international community to take stronger action to ensure the resumption of humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State, warning that lives were at stake.

“All countries should immediately make this issue their number one priority in their relations with Myanmar. Lives are literally at stake,” NRC secretary-general Mr Jan Egeland said in a statement released by the NGO on October 6.

He called on the Myanmar authorities to take immediate action on their promise to allow humanitarian access to people in need of aid in northern Rakhine, which has been closed to most outside organsations since the August 25 attacks.

“The Norwegian Refugee Council is standing by, waiting for the authorities to allow us to move into areas where we fear many people may be stranded without clean water, food, or shelter,” Egeland said.

“We have supplies, we have staff, we have transport. The only thing standing between us and the people who need help is permission to go,” he said.

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Humanitarian organisations “must have access to help these people without one more minute of delay”, said Egeland, who was the United Nations undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from 2003 to 2006.

International organisations have repeatedly called for humanitarian access to northern Rakhine since August 25.

In the aftermath of a government-arranged visit to the area on October 2, ambassadors or senor diplomats from 20 countries reiterated a call for unimpeded access, citing “the dire humanitarian need”.

The UN also called for access and referred to the scale of human suffering as “unimaginable”.


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