Tuesday, August 14, 2012

UN says has no access to ‘tens of thousands’ in Rakhine, Kachin states

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 13:08 Mizzima News

The UN humanitarian affairs office has issued an appeal for US$ 32.5 million to provide humanitarian aid to Rakhine State in Burma, it said this week. The western state has been the site of ongoing community clashes involving Rakhine and Rohingya residents.

The Rohingya population is not considered to be a Burmese ethnic group and is denied citizenship, in spite of long-term residence in the region.

This file photo taken on June 14, 2012 shows Rakhine families at a monastery used as a temporary shelter for people displaced by days of violence in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State. Photo: AFP

John Ging, the director of operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affiars, expressed concern for an estimated 60,000 internally displaced people in strife-torn Rakhine State after ending a four-day visit to the region last week.

Ging said that aid agencies are currently denied access to tens of thousands of displaced people in Rakhine an Kachin states, and he stressed the urgency for respect for humanitarian principles by all parties in order to allow assistance to reach all people in need in all areas of the country.

He also voiced concern for 14 detained humanitarian staff from the UN and international NGOs, who were arrested by security forces during the unrest in June. Some have been charged with criminal offenses, but details of the arrests are scarce.

During his visit, Ging met with senior government officials and welcomed the “generally excellent cooperation” between the authorities and humanitarian agencies, according to a UN statement.

“It is vital that people’s immediate humanitarian needs are met, while, at the same time, fundamental issues are addressed to prevent future occurrences of communal conflict,” Ging said after visiting a camp in Thet Kel Pyin and a monastery in Shwe Zayti – both in Rakhine State – where he met with displaced people and religious leaders.

“Although the situation is extremely fragile, I was encouraged that community leaders on both sides are rejecting conflict as a way of dealing with their grievances and instead are calling for humanity for all and respect for the rule of law,” he said. “This call must be supported and their needs urgently addressed.”

“We hope that donors will respond quickly and that the Government will quickly outline its medium-term plans to ensure that a situation of aid dependency is not created through isolation and separation of communities from each other and their livelihoods,” Ging said. “What people want is security, their grievances addressed and a normal life.”

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