23 September 2022
Since September 16, Myanmar’s military regime has imposed a travel ban on local and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs/INGOs) providing food supplies and other humanitarian assistance to displaced people in six Arakan State townships including Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Minbya, Mrauk-U and Myebon, citing security reasons amid renewed hostilities with the Arakan Army (AA). It remains unclear how long the ban will be in effect.
Politicians, members of civil society organisations and displaced people shared their views with DMG on the regime’s blocking of humanitarian assistance.
U Aung Thaung Shwe || Former Lower House Lawmaker
By restricting INGOs, they [the military regime] have violated international humanitarian law (IHL). The delivery of humanitarian assistance is part of IHL. It is a violation of human rights to block humanitarian assistance. This will prompt the international community to criticise the regime as lacking humanity, and as being quite unscrupulous.
It is fair to say it is quite a cruel regime. Arakan State is a conflict zone, so there is no cultivation and manufacturing, and people have to heavily rely on international assistance. And [the regime] has deliberately blocked international humanitarian assistance from reaching people in Arakan State. By doing this, they intend to create famine. They have intentionally done this out of their own spite.
Daw Nyo Aye || Chairwoman || Rakhine Women’s Network
The travel ban on NGOs and INGOs blocks the delivery of humanitarian assistance to people. Perhaps, it is also aimed at cutting off food supplies [for the AA]. Newly displaced residents, and those who have long been taking shelter at displacement camps, will bear the brunt. Not only them, but also locals from villages that witnessed clashes will go hungry. So my view is the regime wants to create famine for the people in Arakan State.
In its unconscious mind, the regime views Arakanese people and the AA as the same, which is quite bad.
In Arakan State, there are individual volunteers and charities that operate on a small-scale to help displaced people. We also help displaced people. And we can’t help them now due to the travel ban. We strongly oppose the regime doing this. They should not do that. It causes serious impacts on ordinary civilians. We are really disappointed that the regime has the view that Arakanese people and the AA are the same.
U Maung Aye Kyaw || IDP || Pyainetaing Village, Kyauktaw Township
The IDPs will face more hardships as the regime has imposed a travel ban on NGOs and INGOs providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced people. I want the regime to lift the travel ban on NGOs and INGOs. I want the military council to ease the restrictions on NGOs and INGOs that provide humanitarian aid to the displaced people. We have not received food supplies from the military for four months and rely on relief items provided by international organisations such as WFP [World Food Programme].
The military council imposed travel restrictions on NGOs and INGOs, which will cause more suffering for the IDPs. At a time when the displaced people are facing many difficulties because the military council did not provide them rice rations, by stopping the travel of those organisations that are helping us, I see that IDPs will face a lot of difficulties. I would like to ask the military council to reconsider the travel ban on NGOs and INGOs for the sake of IDPs in Arakan State, on humanitarian grounds.
Daw Thein Win Yin || IDP || Wethla displacement camp, Mrauk-U Township
I heard that the military council cut off the supply routes. We must take shelter at displacement camps whether we are provided with relief items by NGOs and INGOs or not. I have children and have to flee to the forest if there is fighting. We are worried about our safety because of the military’s airstrikes. We are facing many difficulties due to the military council’s travel restrictions on NGOs and INGOs.
We are struggling to make ends meet because we have no jobs and the military council cut off the supply routes. I want NGOs and INGOs to provide humanitarian assistance to the IDPs because there are no job opportunities in the displacement camps. It will not be convenient for us to stay in the village. We live in fear and are facing livelihood difficulties due to the military council’s travel ban on NGOs and INGOs.
Daw Ma Hsan Yi || IDP || Zedipyin displacement camp, Rathedaung Township
We will face more difficulties if we do not receive relief items from NGOs and INGOs. We will be in trouble if we are not furnished with relief items.
We have to borrow rice from others and we are in urgent need of food and shelter. I want NGOs and INGOs to supply us with food. We have been sharing food with each other, and all of us have almost run out of food now. We will go hungry if we are not provided with food. Previously, we were furnished with beans, rice, cooking oil and dried fish.