“The Norwegian Refugee Council is standing by, waiting for the authorities to allow us to move into areas where we fear many people may be stranded without clean water, food, or shelter,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). “We have supplies, we have staff, we have transport. The only thing standing between us and the people who need help is permission to go.”
He calls on Myanmar’s authorities to take immediate action on their promise to allow humanitarians access to people in need of aid in north of Rakhine State, where six weeks of violence has ravaged hundreds of villages and driven more than half a million people from their homes. And where next to no aid is getting through.
Since the widespread violence in Rakhine in August, humanitarian organisations previously working in Northern Rakhine state have been blocked from providing assistance.
The Norwegian Refugee Council is currently one of few international organizations with a presence in Northern Rakhine, but has still not received the necessary permissions from the authorities to assess the humanitarian needs and provide emergency support.
“With the large number of people fleeing, and the devastating stories they share, the international community must be allowed to help those people who are left behind, and who might be too weak to flee. Humanitarians must have access to help these people without one more minute of delay,” said Egeland.
International organizations have repeatedly called for humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State. Following a visit to the area, on 2 October, 20 foreign ambassadors reiterated a call for unimpeded humanitarian access, citing the dire humanitarian needs they witnessed. The UN also called for access and referred to the scale of human suffering as “unimaginable”.
Egeland now asks the international community to take stronger action in support of humanitarian access:
“All countries should immediately make this issue their number one priority in their relations with Myanmar. Lives are literally at stake.”
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