Geneva, Nov 2 (IANS) Only restoring security for the Rohingya Muslim minority of Myanmar can lead to a lasting solution to the ongoing crisis, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.
“Though hundreds of thousands are now in need, the long-term solution is not a reflexive over reliance on humanitarian assistance, but the long-term restoration of law and order,” the organisation said in a statement.
“Public services such as healthcare must be restored,” the ICRC was cited as saying by Efe news.
The Rohingyas are from Myanmar’s Rakhine state where they have been ostracized and persecuted for decades.
The latest and most serious Rohingya crisis began at the end of August when groups of Rohingya rebels attacked government posts, spurring the Myanmar Army to launch a violent crackdown which saw more than 600,000 Rohingyas flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Most of those refugees now live in southeastern Bangladesh in camps or temporary shelters near the Myanmar border.
Faced with mounting international pressure, the Myanmar government said it will allow refugees who can prove they were residents of Myanmar to return to the country.
Earlier crises and episodes of violence resulted in the expulsion of thousands of Rohingyas to Bangladesh in recent years.
It is therefore important that “people must be assured that if conflict does return, those not taking part in hostilities will be protected”, according to the ICRC.
Dominik Stillhart, ICRC head of global operations, said after the latest exodus, all communities were in shock and people feel it’s dangerous to move, preferring to stay in place, which means “limited access to schools, farm fields, markets and healthcare”.
“Even with the beginning of a return of legal order, a dark cloud still hangs overhead, a collective feeling that tomorrow might not be better than today. People don’t know where to go or what to do,” he said.
While many international organisations are working from outside Myanmar to help the Rohingyas because the government does not allow them access, the ICRC said the authorities have allowed the Red Cross Movement to operate in Rakhine state.
“We encourage authorities to facilitate the work of humanitarians, as the Red Cross family alone cannot meet the massive needs,” Stillhart said.
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