Rohingya insurgents declare temporary ceasefire amid humanitarian crisis

BANGKOK/COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Rohingya insurgents declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire, starting on Sunday, to enable aid groups to help ease a humanitarian crisis in northwest Myanmar.

Nearly 300,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh and 30,000 non-Muslim civilians have been displaced inside Myanmar after the military launched a counter-offensive following attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents on 30 police posts and an army base on Aug. 25.

“ARSA strongly encourages all concerned humanitarian actors resume their humanitarian assistance to all victims of the humanitarian crisis, irrespective of ethnic or religious background during the ceasefire period,” ARSA said in a statement.

The impact of the move is unclear. The group does not appear to have been able to put up significant resistance against the military force unleashed in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine state. In the last two weeks, thousands of homes have been burned down, dozens of villages uprooted and thousands of people are still on the move towards the border with Bangladesh.

The wave of hungry and traumatised refugees pouring into Bangladesh has strained aid agencies and local communities already helping hundreds of thousands displaced by previous waves of violence in Myanmar.

In its statement, ARSA called on the military to also lay down arms and allow humanitarian aid to all affected people.

Myanmar says its security forces are carrying out clearance operations to defend against ARSA, which the government has declared a terrorist organisation.

Rights monitors and fleeing Rohingya say the army and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes have mounted a campaign of arson aimed at driving out the Muslim population.

On Friday, the United Nations in Bangladesh found tens of thousands of refugees who had not been counted before, raising the count to 270,000 from some 164,000 the day before. On Saturday, that jumped by another 20,000 to 290,000.

On Saturday, thousands of Rohingya were milling on the road near the camp of Kutapalong, carrying bamboo and tarpaulin to build shacks. Children and women flocked to every stopping vehicle, begging.

Aid workers say a serious humanitarian crisis is also unfolding on the Myanmar side of the border.

Red Cross organizations are scaling up their operations in Rakhine after the United Nations had to suspend activities there following government suggestions that its agency had supported the insurgents. The United Nations evacuated non-critical staff from the area.

Thousands of displaced people in Rakhine have been stranded or left without food for weeks. Many are still trying to cross mountains, dense bush and rice fields to reach Bangladesh.

“The UN and INGOs have not been very welcome in Rakhine and…they are not able to operate and ensure the safety and security of their staff and volunteers,” said Joy Singhal of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The government had invited the Red Cross to assist them, he said.

Aid workers worry many Rohingya had been left without food since mid-July, when the World Food Programme (WFP), which had been providing food and cash assistance, was unable to operate.

The government said it would set up camps for internally displaced people in Rakhine but the move could draw opposition from UN humanitarian experts.

Comments  

NFL rallies around protesting players denounced by Trump

SOMERSET, N.J.,/WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – NFL teams staged a show of solidarity with protesting players before yesterday’s games by kneeling, linking arms or staying off the field during the U.S.

Merkel hangs on to power but bleeds support to surging far right

BERLIN,  (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office yesterday but Europe’s most powerful leader will have to govern with a far less stable coalition in a fractured parliament after her conservatives haemorrhaged support to a surging far right.

Battered Puerto Rico hospitals on life support after Hurricane Maria

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO,  (Reuters) – Puerto Rico’s medical services are in critical condition in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Mexicans turn to church as earthquake death toll hits 320

MEXICO CITY,  (Reuters) – Mexicans packed churches on Sunday to pray for the victims of the country’s deadliest quake in 32 years as rescue teams searched against the odds for any survivors trapped under rubble since Tuesday’s tremor shook Mexico City and nearby states.

Kurds stick with independence vote, “never going back to Baghdad” – Barzani

ERBIL, Iraq/ISTANBUL, (Reuters) – Iraq’s Kurds will go ahead with a referendum on independence today because their partnership with Baghdad has failed, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said yesterday, shrugging off international opposition to the vote.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×