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Wednesday, 11 October 2017 08:39

Rohingya: “We are starving”

Rohingya trapped inside Myanmar say thousands are starving and in need of medical care in northern Rakhine State, where a half-million majority Muslim ethnic Rohingya have fled an army crackdown and communal violence.


Abdulla Mehman, who works for an aid agency in the Buthitaung Township, said more than 2,000 people in his village, Kwan Dine, had run out of food, with many others facing shortages.
"Some people are starving."

Rohingya families in at least four other villages in northern Rakhine - Kin Taung, Bura Shida Para, Kyar Gaung Taung, and Sein Daung - also reported urgent food shortages and accused soldiers and Buddhist neighbours of intimidation, looting, extortion and cattle theft.

The reports are difficult to verify independently, as the region has been under an army lockdown, but the witness accounts are in line with what Rohingya refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh have been telling Al Jazeera.
About a half-million Rohingya are thought to remain in Myanmar's westernmost state.

A group of 20 diplomats who visited northern Rakhine on an official tour described the humanitarian situation there as "dire", and urged Aung San Suu Kyi's government to resume "life-saving services without discrimination".

People could die in Rakhine State if aid does not arrive soon, Human Rights Watch said.

Accounts by refugees pouring into Bangladesh of mass killings, gang-rapes, and burning of whole villages has led the UN to accuse the Myanmar government of ethnic cleansing, a claim it denies.

A 30-year-old farmer, said: "If any Rohingya are seen on the streets after the Maghrib prayer (dusk), then we are fined 200,000 Burmese kyat ($147). If they find cattle, they take that also."

Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist based in Germany, said northern Rakhine was "like a prison" and that thousands of Rohingya were continuing to flee their homes after the army intensified a campaign of intimidation and arson this week.

He also posted a video of shuttered shops and deserted streets in the once-bustling town centre of Maungdaw.

In some areas, the violence has ebbed, but Rohingya said they lived in fear.

"The situation is calm now, but we cannot go to the shops to buy necessities because we are afraid the Buddhists may beat us," said Abu Tayeb, a teacher in Bura Shida Para in north Maungdaw.
"We cannot get adequate food and we cannot pray [at the mosques]."

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch said he was "concerned" by the lack of information about the hundreds of thousands remaining in Rakhine.

He added: "It is imperative that the Myanmar authorities give full humanitarian access to northern Rakhine or people will die."

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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