ASIA/MYANMAR - Rohingya refugees seriously threatened: In the crossfire between the Burmese armed forces and the Arakan Army

Wednesday, 22 May 2024 human rights   rohingya  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - The existence of Rohingya refugees is seriously threatened: this is the warning from sixteen Rohingya organizations and various non-governmental organizations from all over the world that fight for the rights of the Rohingya in Myanmar. The organizations call for urgent humanitarian assistance, pointing out that of the 60,000 Rohingya refugees remaining in Arakan (or Rakhine) state after 2016-2017, only a third live in their villages, while the other two-thirds continue to live as internally displaced persons in the communities of Buthidaung and Maungdaw. But for them there is no peace: "The Rohingya in the center of Buthidaung were asked to leave the city by the local Arakan Army. There was no fighting, but the soldiers wanted to scare the people and get them to leave their homes and then loot them. Thousands of Rohingya, including women, children and the elderly, were forced to flee for their lives. We condemn all the atrocities committed by the Arakan Army", the organizations said in a joint statement. "The displaced Rohingya," the appeal says, "have neither food nor shelter. They suffer from hunger, lack of drinking water and medical care. Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed. Rohingya organizations today call on the international community to intervene quickly and to put pressure on the United League of Arakan and the Arakan Army to put an end to mass forced displacement and human rights violations." The displaced people are victims of violence and are in the midst of fighting between the Arakan Army and the regular Myanmar army, which is restricting the delivery of humanitarian aid to the region. The non-governmental organizations are therefore calling on the government of Bangladesh to open the border to at least enable the delivery of humanitarian aid to the northern areas of Rakhine. They call on the United Nations to "immediately begin investigating the current crisis in order to report publicly on what is happening." The NGOs propose to "launch a dialogue process involving all ethnic and religious communities in Rakhine State in order to jointly strive for peaceful coexistence." "Once again, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are fleeing for their lives. The international community has been warned about what could happen and has not intervened. Now is the time to act boldly. The current situation in Buthidaung is very serious. Tens of thousands of refugees are on the run after their villages were attacked in recent days," the joint statement said. The Burmese Army has forcibly recruited thousands of Rohingya men from detention camps in Rakhine State since February and is sending the recruits to fight against the Arakan Army. “The regime has used the Rohingya for propaganda purposes to foment ethnic and religious hatred and violence,” the appeal says. In addition, there are other militant organizations (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army; Arakan Rohingya Army; Rohingya Solidarity Organization) that are recruiting the Rohingya, fighting alongside the Burmese army against the Arakan Army. In short, the Rohingya are manipulated and exploited by both sides and are innocent victims of groups that "neither represent the Rohingya community nor act on its behalf." The organizations that signed the appeal expressed their "full solidarity with the victims of such crimes in Rakhine State." "The Rohingya want to live in Arakan side by side in peaceful coexistence with other ethnic groups and different religious communities, on equal terms, rooted in dignity and respect for the Rohingya identity," they emphasize. There are currently around 600,000 Rohingya refugees living in Rakhine State. Most of the population, an estimated 260,000 Rohingya, live in Buthidaung township. About 140,000 Rohingya are trapped in detention camps in the coastal towns of Sittwe, Pauktaw, Myebon and Kyaukphyu. On October 27, 2023, an alliance consisting of the Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and Ta'ang National Liberation Army launched Operation 1027 against the military junta. In November, the Arakan Army turned its attention particularly to Rakhine State, launching attacks against the Burmese army, and Rohingya refugees found themselves in the midst of civil war. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/5/2024)