The World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended food aid in Myanmar’s violence-scorched Rakhine State, as the humanitarian situation deteriorates with a surging death toll and tens of thousands — both Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Buddhists — on the move.
Relief agencies, including WFP, have repeatedly been accused by Myanmar authorities of allowing their rations to fall into the hands of Rohingya militants, whose attacks on police posts on August 25 sparked the current violence.
Around 120,000 people — most of them Rohingya Muslim civilians — have relied on aid hand-outs in camps since 2012, when religious riots killed scores and sparked a crisis which is again burning through the state.
Over the last five years, Rakhine State has been cut along ethnic and religious lines, but the current violence is the worst yet.
Aid agencies are routinely accused of a pro-Rohingya bias and the sudden flare-up of unrest has renewed safety concerns, prompting relief work to be pulled back.
“All WFP food assistance operations in Rakhine State have been suspended due to insecurity … affecting 250,000 internally displaced and other most vulnerable populations,” the WFP said in statement.
“We are coordinating with the authorities to resume distributions for all affected communities as soon as possible, including for any people newly affected by the current unrest.”
Myanmar police stand guard at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State.
The Rohingya, branded illegal immigrants in Myanmar and mostly denied citizenship, make up the vast majority of the dead and displaced since 2012.