Rakhine: INGOs issue warning over aid for displaced civilians

By FRONTIER

YANGON — Aid for civilians displaced by recent fighting in Rakhine State will be inadequate unless humanitarian groups are given rapid, unfettered and sustained access to affected areas, international non-government organisations have warned.

“Humanitarian access is now extremely restricted in 5 key townships where violence and resulting displacement has been most pronounced,” said a statement released by 14 INGOs that operate in Rakhine.

“Without effective and ongoing access, the ability of local and international organizations to provide life-saving assistance to all conflict-affected communities in central and northern Rakhine is seriously compromised,” said the statement, issued on January 22.

The statement commended Rakhine civil society groups, the Red Cross movement and other agencies responding to the needs of those affected by the fighting between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw.

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However, it expressed concern that the response would not be enough to meet the humanitarian needs of an estimated 5,000 people displaced in Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun and Rathedaung townships, “with further fighting and displacement expected”.

“Local and international organizations should be granted rapid, unfettered and sustained access to all affected populations to independently assess needs and provide comprehensive assistance and protection to all communities in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law,” the statement said.

It said the 14 INGOs, which include Oxfam, Save the Children, Action Contre La Faim, Peace Winds Japan and World Vision International, stood ready to support all conflict-affected communities and complement response efforts.

“The current upsurge in violence threatens the safety of civilians and re-confirms that the key drivers of insecurity and violence in Rakhine need to be comprehensively addressed, as outlined in the recommendations put forward by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State,” the statement said.

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