Burma: Govt lifts blockade on Rakhine state, allows envoys and aid workers to enter
Share this on

Burma: Govt lifts blockade on Rakhine state, allows envoys and aid workers to enter

THE Burmese government has granted access to foreign diplomats and aid workers to the western Rakhine state, where attacks on police and Rohingya Muslims have flared up, diplomats said on Friday.

Foreign diplomats and EU and U.N. officials were invited by the government early this week to check the three-week surge in violence that was prompted by the killings of nine police officers at border posts with Bangladesh in Maungdaw township on Oct. 9.

“We hope that this is the first step for greater access for us to resume humanitarian assistance,” said U.S Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Since the tensions flared, aid workers and media have been seriously restricted from reaching conflict areas of the state.

U.N. coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien on Friday urged the government to launch an independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses following her two-day trip to the region.

SEE ALSO: Burmese government blocking aid in Rakhine state, says HRW 

“The allegation of gender-based violence is worrying and we expressed this to the government, but we discussed mainly how to resume humanitarian assistance in the region,” AP quoted her as saying when asked about reports of rape against Rohingya women.

Longstanding discrimination by the Buddhist majority against Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine exploded into bloody violence in 2012. More than 100,000 people, mostly Rohingyas, are still in displacement camps.

Meanwhile, Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi says her government will not blame anyone for recent violence involving minority Rohingya Muslims until authorities have all the evidence.

Her comment Friday comes amid growing international concern over the surge in violence by security forces in Rakhine.

Suu Kyi acknowledged attacks on police outposts, where one policeman was killed, while some Muslims were also attacked.

She said the Rakhine situation is delicate and that Myanmar’s government has been “very careful not to blame anybody in particular unless we have complete evidence as to who has been responsible for what.”

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counsellor and foreign minister, is in Japan on a five-day visit.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press