Rohingya in Western Myanmar Starving as Aid Blocked

By The Irrawaddy 23 August 2021

Rohingya communities in villages and displacement camps in Sittwe and Buthidaung townships in Rakhine State say they have been facing food shortages for more than three months.

Displacement camps holding hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in the west of Sittwe have received no relief aid since June, Khaung Dokka camp manager U Maung Maung Tin told The Irrawaddy.

“We have not received cash allowances for some three months. We are having real hardships. Some already have no money to buy rice and have sold what they have to survive. The situation is that bad,” he said.

A displaced Rohingya woman.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been sheltering in camps along the Sittwe coast since sectarian strife targeted the Muslim community in 2012. Some make a living fishing, farming and doing casual work while the majority rely on international aid.

“We can hardly buy food. We can’t go out due to COVID-19 [restrictions] and we have no work. There have been petty crimes, like stealing food, committed by those who are starving. WFP [World Food Program] staff told us that they are not giving aid because of orders from their managers,” said a Rohingya from the Sae Thamar Gyi displacement camp in Sittwe.

The WFP previously provided a monthly allowance of 15,000 kyats (US$9) per head for the camp, he said.

Rohingya villages in Buthidaung Township on the Bangladesh border have received no relief aid for more than three months, said a Muslim villager from Hteik Hto Pauk in the township.

A displaced Rohingya woman.

“We have received no food supplies for three months. People are being forced to sell or pawn their belongings as they can’t go out to earn a living due to COVID-19. Every day, we long for supplies and call to ask when they will come,” said the villager.

There are more than 50,000 Muslims in several villages in Buthidaung Township and the WFP used to provide them with monthly supplies of rice, oil and other basics.

International non-governmental organizations are in talks with Rakhine State’s military authorities to provide relief supplies to Rohingya villages and displacement camps.

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