Asia

Myanmar lets Medecins Sans Frontieres back into Rakhine

  • 24 July 2014
  • From the section Asia
Anti-MSF protest in Rahkine (23 February 2014)
Image caption Buddhists in Rakhine state staged protests against Medecins Sans Frontieres in February

Myanmar has invited the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres to resume its work in Rakhine state, which has been plagued by sectarian violence.

The medical body, one of the biggest providers of healthcare in Rakhine, was ordered out of the state in February.

The government said all aid groups in Myanmar (Burma) could return to Rakhine but that MSF "was especially welcome".

In February the president's office accused MSF of being biased in favour of Rakhine's Muslim Rohingya minority.

The group had publicised casualties among Rohingyas who had allegedly been attacked by a Buddhist mob. Some Buddhists accused MSF staff of favouring Rohingyas.

Announcing the decision to allow MSF back into Rakhine, President's Office Minister Soe Thein promised to guarantee the safety of the group's staff in the state.

"As human beings we all commit errors and the errors usually lie on both sides," he told a press conference in Yangon.

MSF welcomed the move.

"We look forward to continuing constructive discussions with the Ministry of Health regarding how MSF can support the ministry in the immediate expansion of lifesaving medical activities for the people of Rakhine currently facing a humanitarian crisis," it said in a statement.

MSF was providing emergency assistance to tens of thousands of Rohingya people displaced by recent violence.

The United Nations has described the Rohingya as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

They are considered stateless and are rejected by both Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Rohingya have faced widespread public hostility in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

There have been several outbreaks of mass violence against them since June 2012, with tens of thousands fleeing their homes for temporary camps.

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