Families in Rakhine Say They Face Malnutrition after Aid Workers Flee Attack

Families, especially children, in Myanmar’s Rakhine state say they suffer from malnutrition after an attack which forced international aid workers to flee from sectarian violence.

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Muslim Rohingyas living in shelters in Myanmar’s violence-plagued western state of Rakhine have said they are facing severe lack of nutrition as a result of aid workers evacuating from the region following attacks on their homes and offices in March.

A woman called Sarshidar said her husband was killed during a riot in 2012 and that she used to receive help from international aid agencies and private donors. However, now, she and her children are sometimes forced to have only one meal per day.

She said that her children have been the most affected as they have growth and health problems.

“My children have been facing food problems for three months since NGOs left. We have got no food support, medicine and nothing. There is no donor as well,” she said.

Hundreds of international aid workers have been evacuated from Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, since the UNHCR and UNICEF warehouses and offices were attacked on March 27.

“When we’ve got food aid we have money and can help each other when someone has health or nutrition problems. Now, no one has money here since there are no NGOs and help,” said Mohamad Ali, a displaced resident.

Aid organisation Plan said in the beginning of 2014 that there are “high rates of chronic malnutrition in the camps” and “children are at particular risk” calling for measures to be put in place to ensure their protection and well-being.

However, Win Myaing, the deputy director of State Information Ministry, said he was unconvinced that the families were really suffering from food and aid shortage.

“There is a group who denied taking medical treatment from neither the government nor AZG (Artsen zonder Grenzen). They are pretending that the government is neglecting them and that they are suffering from these problems to the media,” he said.

Win Myaing added that he believes Muslim refugees intend to put pressure on the Myanmar government through international media.

At least 237 people have been killed in religious violence in Myanmar since June 2012 and more than 140,000 have been displaced, many of them Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine State.

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