YANGON – Cut off from food and threatened by Buddhist neighbors, Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s violence-racked Rakhine state received their first substantial food supplies in months on Wednesday after international pressure on government to help.
“A boat arrived yesterday evening with rice bags and six Red Cross staff came to our village this morning,” Maung Maung, an administrator in the riverside Rohingya village of Ah Nauk Pyin, told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday, October 11.
He said it was the first time in three months that significant supplies of food had been delivered to the village.
“The aid arrived just as we’re starving,” he said.
Diplomats and aid groups called on the government to step in after reports revealed the dire situation faced by thousands of Rohingya Muslims trapped in the villages of Ah Nauk Pyin and Nyaung Pin Gyi last month.
More than half a million Rohingya villagers have fled to Bangladesh to escape what the United Nations has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” aimed at pushing the Rohingya out of the country for good.
Aid is being organized by three Red Cross organizations, the Myanmar [Burma] Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The aid to the 600 families of Ah Nauk Pyin delivered on Wednesday included rice, oil, beans, salt, sugar and tinned fish for a month.
Residents of the other Rohingya village, Nyaung Pin Gyi, said they had not been visited and had yet to get any aid.
ICRC communications official Khin Htay Oo said Nyaung Pin Gyi would get food aid on Tuesday.
“We help all people affected by the conflict, we do not take sides based on race or religion,” she said.