MAUNGDAW, Arakan State — Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye visited eight villages in northern and southern Maungdaw Township in Arakan State on Sunday to investigate the humanitarian situation and accusations of human rights abuses, according to Arakan State government secretary U Tin Maung Swe.
Questioned about reports of malnutrition, U Tin Maung Swe told The Irrawaddy that the group “did not see such things.”
Arakan State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu, UNHCR representative Wara Furukawa, and two regional ministers joined the trip to Muslim and Buddhist villages to meet with local residents and hand out aid.
An Irrawaddy reporter visited U Daung village tract—about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from downtown Maungdaw in the southern part of Maungdaw Township—and counted six police checkpoints on the road.
Police said the region was peaceful and had been spared from the violence experienced in northern Maungdaw Township. U Daung’s village administrator confirmed that there had been no fighting.
The administrator of Ywar Thein Ywar Ngay village Kora Mulah—who could not speak Burmese—told The Irrawaddy that there was no tension between Muslim and Buddhist Arakanese communities there.
The Union minister spent 10 minutes in Ywar Thein Ywar Ngay village, which is in U Daung village tract, distributing cookies to children and donating 20 bags of rice.
After lunch, the authorities toured Aung Mingalar village which is close to the border police post at Kyee Kan Pyin which was attacked on Oct. 9.
A woman living in Aung Mingalar asked the visiting delegation “could you send more police here? We are scared of the danger of Bengalis.”
Buddhist Arakanese political and civil society leaders insist that the largely stateless Rohingya Muslim minority be called “Bengali,” to imply they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh who do not belong in Arakan State.
Border police commander Thura San Lwin told villagers not to fear because Aung Mingalar village is close to police headquarters and there are security forces deployed in the village.
The delegation visited nearby villages and returned to the state capital of Sittwe by helicopter at 2 p.m. where they held a press conference.
During the trip, Dr. Win Myat Aye discussed a relocation plan for the internally displaced persons of Maungdaw Township who recently fled during military operations, according to U Tin Maung Swe.