Arakan displaced need govt, foreign help, says ANP lawmaker

Arakan displaced need govt, foreign help, says ANP lawmaker

Lower house MP Khin Saw Wai of the Arakan National Party (ANP) is calling for increased aid to assist people displaced by fighting between Burmese government troops and the rebel Arakan Army, saying their numbers are increasing by the day.

Speaking to DVB on Sunday, Khin Saw Wai said that more than 1,700 people have so far been forced to flee their homes and take shelter in camps where they are facing food and water shortages.

“There is an urgent need of assistance to support their livelihoods. Drinking water has started to run out in the displacement camps and there were three pregnant women among those who arrived the other day,” she said, adding that children among the displaced are also in need of healthcare.

She said the ANP — which earlier called on the government to push for an end to the conflict — is planning to put forward an urgent proposal in the union parliament on 9 May calling on the government to provide necessary assistance to displaced civilians. She also called for assistance from the UN and international aid groups, stressing that they have yet to provide any help.

The regional government previously provided some relief in displacement camps in Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships but more populated camps in Ponnakyun and Kyauktaw have not yet received any assistance.

“The IDPs are now mostly surviving on handouts from civil society organisations and overseas Arakanese groups, but this is only short term,” Khin Saw Wai said.

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“Schools are also about to reopen and the government must help as it is their duty to look after the people who are in need of help.”

In early 2014, international aid for internally displaced persons (IDPs) who lost their homes to communal clashes came almost to a standstill in the face of local opposition to efforts to assist Rohingya victims of the violence. However, by July of that year, aid groups were invited back into the state.

Last week, Khin Saw Wai also expressed alarm at the number of “illegal immigrants” in Arakan State, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to the Rohingya.

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