Myanmar: Violence in Rakhine State
Humanitarian relief projects temporarily suspended
After violent clashes between two ethnic groups in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State broke out, Malteser International evacuated 26 of its staff – including five international workers – from Sittwe, the state’s capital, and Maungdaw to Yangon. The move was part of a coordinated approach with the United Nations and other non-governmental organisations on the ground.
“The situation in both areas continues to be critical”, reports Birke Herzbruch, Malteser International’s country representative, from Yangon. “The police and military presence on site is constant, and the mood is very tense among the population”.
Together with the humanitarian community in Yangon, Malteser International will continue to observe the situation. “Currently, it is not clear how the developments are going to unfold, nor how the conflict is going to affect the already terrible humanitarian conditions in the region and the currently interrupted relief programmes”, Herzbruch says.
At least seven people have died and many have been wounded during the riots and clashes in between the region’s Buddhist and Muslim residents over the past days. The Burmese government has declared a state of emergency for Rakhine State.
Malteser International has been active in Myanmar since 2001, and has implemented projects in Rakhine State since 2003. Currently, five international and 202 national staff members work in the areas of health care, water supply and disaster risk reduction.