April 20, 2024

Medical aid urgently needed in Myanmar

The Lancet called this week for humanitarian support to be “urgently deployed” in Myanmar.

The persecution of the Rohingya population in Myanmar has a decades long history. Yet alleged ethnic cleansing by military forces in recent weeks has prompted international observers to call for immediate international action and massive humanitarian support.

The notorious Tatmadaw national army has allegedly burnt hundreds of Rohingya villages in the past month, leading more than 500,000 residents of the region (half of them children) to flee over the border to Bangladesh. Those who have crossed the boarder lack basic food and medical aid, and those still in the country face a dire threat from the hostile military forces. The Rohingya remaining in Rakhine have been cut off from crucial humanitarian aid since August 25, when Rohingya militant raids triggered the military backlash that plunged the region into crisis.

The Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine are denied citizenship and are instead branded “Bengalis” – or illegal migrants who do not belong in the Buddhist-majority country. Even before tensions escalated between the military and Rohingya insurgents, Muslim communities in Rakhine were receiving regular threats from local Rakhine Buddhists to leave the area.

The editors of The Lancet called this week for humanitarian support to be “urgently deployed to protect the very existence of a ravaged Rohingya population”:

“Bangladesh must be supported to manage the major humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding with risks of infectious disease outbreaks, lack of basic water and sanitation, and exploitation of the population, especially of women and children (around 1000 unaccompanied minors).”

Medical and humanitarian aid in Myanmar
Xavier Symons
Creative commons