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No help, no treatment, nowhere to turn for Rohingyas

Aid agencies blocked from helping Rohingyas

No help, no treatment, nowhere to turn for Rohingyas
The Aun Minglar neighborhood - the only Muslim part of Sittwe that escaped devastation
Daniel Wynn, Sittwe

November 9, 2012

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In the dingy room of a two-story house in a Muslim neighborhood of Sittwe in Rakhine state, Khin Hla Wai, 39, has been lying on her bed for weeks with a bloated abdomen, hoping for news that she would be taken to a hospital for proper medical treatment. She is one of many sick Rohingya Muslims who have been denied access to hospital treatment since the latest sectarian clashes broke out in June between the minority Muslims and the majority Buddhist Rakhines. Aung Minglar neighborhood, where Khin Hla Wai lives, in is the only place in Sittwe where Rohingya Muslims were not displaced in the aftermath of the clashes. But the Muslims have been living in a jail-like atmosphere since then. They risk attacks from Buddhists if they leave the neighborhood, even to buy food at the market. So the Muslims can only rely on an army medic who occasionally comes to the neighborhood. The medic told Khin Hla Wai a month ago that she was in urgent need of surgery, because her uterus was badly swollen. He advised her to report her case to the police so she could safely go to hospital. But the police guarding the neighborhood said they could not guarantee her safety. Khin Hla Wai has been making do since then with painkillers, given to her by an army medic. In front of her house, there is a mosque with a makeshift graveyard where at least 20 people in the neighborhood have been buried. They were said to have met untimely deaths because they could not go to hospital for treatment. “No hospital for the sick Rohingyas. We have no right to medical treatment. And those who die here cannot be taken to the cemetery outside the town either,” said one local Rohingya. In a statement released on Monday, Medecins Sans Frontieres /Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its teams had been threatened and stopped from reaching the conflict zones, which has deprived tens of thousands of people of much needed health care. The statement added that “ongoing antagonism generated by deep ethnic divisions,” has stopped them from treating both the newly displaced and patients of its long term projects; MSF has run a major medical program in Rakhine for nearly 20 years. "That we are prevented from acting and threatened for wanting to deliver medical aid to those in need is shocking and leaves tens of thousands without the medical care they urgently need," said Joe Belliveau, MSF operations manager. MSF also said its supplies of anti-malaria drugs to centers in the rural townships of Kyauk Taw, Minbya, and Paletwa were badly disrupted.  It went on to warn that if they are not resumed quickly, the number of untreated malaria cases will rise rapidly as the peak season approaches. Early last month, Rakhine Buddhists in Sittwe protested against MSF opening a health care center in the town. The opening has been postponed. Meanwhile, in Sittwe’s general hospital, all the patients who have sustained injuries in the violence, most with bullet wounds, are Rakhine Buddhists. There is not a single Rohingya patient. Related reports General says Rohingya crisis is under control Suu Kyi speaks out on Rakhine unrest
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