Police in Myanmar have clashed with a mob blocking an aid shipment in Rakhine state while nine people have died in a road accident involving a Red Cross truck in Bangladesh.
Wednesday’s developments hamper urgently needed relief efforts for Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
A 300-strong Buddhist mob in Rakhine’s capital Sittwe gathered late on Wednesday at a jetty where a boat carrying relief goods was preparing to travel up river to Maungdaw, as per the reports.
The mob forced the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) to unload the aid from the boat and prevented the vessel from leaving, state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported on Thursday, quoting Myanmar’s Information Committee.
Police officers arrived as the crowd neared the jetty, while Buddhist monks also tried to calm the mob, but people began to hurl “stones and Molotov [cocktails] at the riot police,” the report said.
Eight people were detained and several police were injured before order was restored.
The ICRC confirmed the incident and said it would continue to try and deliver relief to the area.
“We will carry on, nothing has been put on hold,” Graziella Leite Piccoli, ICRC spokeswoman for Asia, told AFP news agency.
Communal tensions remain high across Rakhine where raids by Rohingya fighters at the end of last month prompted a major army crackdown, driving more than 420,000 people into Bangladesh in what the UN calls a campaign of “ethnic cleansing”.
Aid groups fear that tens of thousands trapped in Rakhine are desperate for support, even though humanitarian access remains difficult despite the government’s promise to allow safe passage.
The crisis has prompted condemnation of the country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, for refusing to blame Myanmar’s powerful military for the crackdown, which French President Emmanuel Macron said amounted to “genocide”.
News of the clashes in Rakhine, where security forces have been accused of razing scores of Rohingya villages, emerged as a truck hired by the Red Cross and ICRC crashed in Bangladesh, killing nine people and injuring 10 others.