Myanmar: Aid agency accused of Rohingya bias returns

YANGON - A European-aid agency expelled from Myanmar’s violence-torn state of western Rakhine early last year for what authorities considered to be bias in favor of the area's Rohingya Muslim minority has revealed that it was allowed to quietly return in December.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement that its primary health clinics had restarted Dec. 17th.

The aid agency had been expelled from western Rakhine in February after it said it had treated people believed to be victims of violence between local Buddhists and the area's Muslim community.

In March, agency workers from other groups were temporarily evacuated after Buddhist mobs tore through the state capital Sittwe attacking their homes and offices.

MSF said that since restarting primary health clinics four weeks ago, it had carried out over 3,480 outpatient consultations, seeing predominately people with watery diarrhoea, respiratory infections, and patients with chronic conditions who used to get the medications they need to manage their disease from MSF Holland before those services were suspended. 

It added that it had also done over 550 consultations with pregnant women in this short period.

In September, Rakhine’s Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohme said, "MSF should very carefully resume aid operations here and stay away from any movement like lobbying for a group or individuals."

"They [MSF] should better focus on humanitarian efforts and build trust [with locals] with accountability and transparency," he added, after meeting with MSF representatives and a local emergency coordination committee established by Buddhists in March to monitor the efforts of international aid organizations.

Ethnic violence erupted in Sittwe in mid-2012 and has since spread across the country, leaving up to 280 dead and 140,000 displaced.

The majority of those displaced are Rohingya Muslims, who are confined to squalid camps by armed guards and checkpoints on the outskirts of Sittwe.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency