Foreign nations urge access to Myanmar displaced
YANGON, Myanmar - The United States, Britain and other countries called Friday, November 9, for Myanmar to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to tens of thousands of people displaced by sectarian unrest in western Rakhine state.
In a joint statement, nine embassies in Yangon urged "all parties to work together to bring an immediate end to the violence".
They appealed for "a full, transparent and independent investigation" to determine the roots of the Buddhist-Muslim clashes.
"We further encourage the government to enable safe, timely, and unhindered humanitarian access across Rakhine State to all persons in need," according to the statement, which was also signed by the embassies of Australia, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced and about 180 killed since clashes between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims erupted in June, followed by another outbreak of violence in October.
A foreign diplomat in Yangon who did not want to be named said that although Myanmar was showing "a real willingness to cooperate" in aid efforts, security concerns in certain areas were a hurdle to deliveries.
The UN Refugee Agency has warned that the influx of internal refugees has pushed the Rakhine camps "beyond capacity in terms of space, shelter and basic supplies such as food and water".
Doctors Without Borders said earlier this week its teams were struggling to reach most communities affected by the violence owing to "antagonism generated by deep ethnic divisions".
Most of the displaced are stateless Rohingya, considered by the UN to be among the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Some ethnic Rakhine leaders have campaigned against international aid agencies in recent months, arguing they favour the Rohingya.
President Thein Sein said last month his government was open to aid from foreign donors, following a series of protests by Buddhists against efforts by a world Islamic body to help Muslims affected by the violence.
The country, which is emerging from decades of military rule, was the target of international criticism over its reluctance to allow outside aid to victims of a cyclone in 2008 that left more than 138,000 people dead or missing. - Agence France-Presse