Bangkok, March 27 (IANS) The Myanmar government is systematically restricting humanitarian aid and imposing discriminatory policies on Rohingya Muslims, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
The government should permit unfettered access to humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to Muslim populations, end segregated areas and put forward a plan for those displaced to return to their homes.
“Burmese government restrictions on aid to Rohingya Muslims are creating a humanitarian crisis that will become a disaster when the rainy season arrives,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Instead of addressing the problem, Burma’s leaders seem intent on keeping the Rohingya segregated in camps rather than planning for them to return to their homes,” he said.
An ethnic Arakanese campaign of violence and abuses since June 2012 facilitated by and at times involving state security forces and government officials has displaced more than 125,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims in western Myanmar’s Arakan state.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya still lack adequate humanitarian aid – leading to an unknown number of preventable deaths – in isolated, squalid displacement camps.
Government security forces guarding the camps do not permit the residents to leave the camps, which has a devastating effect on their livelihoods, Human Rights Watch said.
Several camps housing Rohingya are located in paddy fields and lowland areas that face heavy flooding during the rainy season, which will begin in May, yet the authorities have not taken serious steps to move them to higher ground, it said.
“The government seems untroubled by the dire humanitarian conditions in the camps in Arakan state but it will be responsible for the lives unnecessarily lost,” Robertson said.