Myanmar: Unrest in Sittwe/Rakhine State
Malteser International calls for reopening of humanitarian space
Malteser International is deeply concerned about the attacks having started on 26 March 2014 against the premises of international relief organisations and of the UN in Sittwe, Rakhine State, and calls all involved actors for a joint effort to reopen the humanitarian space in Sittwe again.
“As of now, no aid services are functioning in the region. If humanitarian aid cannot be restarted quickly, this will have a severe impact on the humanitarian situation on the ground”, says Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International. – Already since 2012, ethnic violence has been on-going in Rakhine State.According to Malteser International staff on the ground, it is estimated that 90 per cent of all premises of international relief organisations and of the UN in Sittwe were attacked with stones by unidentified groups. Many offices – including the office of Malteser International – were entered and furniture and equipment destroyed. No casualties have been reported so far, but the situation can easily escalate into violence. “We are very concerned that the riots might also spread to neighbouring districts”, Radtke states.
Malteser International as well as further international relief organisations in Sittwe have temporarily suspended their relief activities in Sittwe. In cooperation with other international organisations and the respective embassies, the organization has temporarily relocated its international as well as parts of its national staff to Yangon. At present, Malteser International does not see any threat for its national resident staff members in Sittwe.
Malteser International has been working in Myanmar already since 2001 and in Rakhine State since 2003 and is currently active in Sittwe with three international staff members from America and Uruguay and 85 local staff members running health, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) as well as disaster risk reduction programmes for the population. In northern Rakhine where Malteser International’s projects are currently not affected so that the organization can continue its work in cooperation with the local communities.