Monday, August 6, 2012

Charity groups appeal Bangladesh ban on services

Monday, 06 August 2012 13:24 Mizzima News    

Doctors Without Border (MSF) has urged Bangladesh to reconsider its ban on three aid groups providing aid to Rohingya refugees, calling the consequences “devastating.”

The Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s bazar. Photo: Bayazid Akter / Mizzima

Bangladesh this week ordered France's MSF and Action Against Hunger (ACF) and Britain's Muslim Aid to stop providing aid to Rohingyas who crossed the border to flee persecution and violence in Rakhine State in Burma.

The government said giving undocumented Rohingya refugees medicine, food, drinking water and training facilities encourage more Rohingya to come into the country. The NGO Affairs Bureau, which is a wing under the prime minister's office, accused MSF of “damaging the image of Bangladesh by running negative news in the international media” about difficult conditions faced by the Rohingya.

The MSF said around 100,000 people risk losing access to lifesaving healthcare in southeastern Cox's Bazaar District as a consequence.

“To be forced to leave our patients is unthinkable and the repercussions life threatening,” said MSF operational manager for Bangladesh, Chris Lockyear. “We are astounded at being requested to cease our medical activities and deprive people of lifesaving services. We can only hope that the Bangladeshi government will reconsider.”

The international charity estimates that 27-30 percent of children living in Cox's Bazaar's Kutupalong makeshift camp, home to unregistered Rohingya refuges, are malnourished and are facing a “humanitarian emergency”.

The government says some 300,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in Bangladesh, the vast majority in Cox's Bazaar, after fleeing persecution in Burma. About 30,000 are registered refugees who live in two camps run by the United Nations.

In recent weeks, Bangladesh has turned away boats carrying hundreds of Rohingya fleeing the violence in Burma despite pressure from the United States and rights groups to grant them refuge. Burma security forces opened fire on Rohingya Muslims, committed rape and stood by as rival mobs attacked each other during the recent wave of sectarian violence, New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday. The authorities failed to protect both Muslims and Buddhists and then “unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya”, the group said in a report.

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