Win Nyunt | DMG
March 26, Sittwe

The Arakan National Party (ANP) urged the government on March 25 to restore mobile internet access in Arakan and Chin states so that residents can get official announcements about coronavirus without delay.

An ANP statement mentioned that the internet blackout made it hard for residents in some townships of Arakan State and Paletwa Township in Chin State to learn about coronavirus warnings issued by the government.

“We hear about that virus and also hear that it was very worrying. But we don’t know in detail how you can catch the virus so residents in the camp are concerned about it. We don’t know how to protect ourselves against it. It seems like we are blocked from having any news due to the internet blackout,” War Taung IDP camp official U Tun Hla Kyaw said.

The ANP warned that the virus, also known as COVID-19, could spread rapidly in IDP camps due to poor sanitary conditions, lack of suitable accommodation and overcrowding. It asked the government, and local and international organisations, to show “humanity” and provide food, accommodation and healthcare to IDPs urgently.

The party also demanded a cessation of hostilities between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) to allow problems to be solved through political dialogue. This, the party argued, was necessary to mitigate the risk of coronavirus contagion among the region’s war-weary civilian population.

On June 21, the government cut off mobile internet access in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw, Myebon, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships in Arakan State, where the Tatmadaw and the AA have been fighting for months, and in Chin State’s Paletwa Township.

The ban was lifted in some of the townships on September 1, only to be reimposed on February 3.

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