Médecins Sans Frontiéres, better known as MSF or Doctors Without Borders urged Myanmar Monday to grant international humanitarian organizations unrestricted and independent access to the conflict-torn Rakhine state to provide humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people.
The MSF appeal comes amid an ongoing military offensive in Rakhine that was launched on Aug. 25 after the Arakan Rohingya Resistance Army (ARSA) mounted fresh attacks on multiple government posts in the region that led to over 400,000 Rohingyas fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.
"The remaining population in Northern Rakhine, thought to be hundreds of thousands of people, is without any meaningful form of humanitarian assistance," MSF said in a statement.
According to the statement, in central Rakhine, around 120,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) remain in camps where they are entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival, owing to restrictions on their movements.
The statement adds that MSF used to provide mobile clinics in several of these camps and villages "but international staff have not been granted travel authorisations to visit the health facilities since the end of August, whilst national staff have been too afraid to go to work following remarks by Myanmar officials accusing NGOs of colluding with ARSA."
Moreover, according to Benoit De Gryse, MSF's operations manager for Myanmar, the government's desire to exclusively provide humanitarian assistance in Rakhine "is likely to result in even more severe administrative and access constraints than ever."
The army offensive in Rakhine has been condemned globally by human rights organizations for its brutality.
Rohingyas are not recognized as citizens by Myanmar although more than one million of them have lived in the country for generations.
The minority, who are mostly Muslim, also face growing discrimination, including severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, following a sectarian conflict in 2012 that killed at least 160 people, and displaced nearly 120,000.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Council is set to discuss Monday human rights violations in Myanmar and determine if an ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority is underway in the country.