Refugees International (RI) is deeply alarmed by the recent violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and the dire consequences for innocent civilians. RI condemns the heavy-handed response of the Myanmar military to attacks by Rohingya militants on police. Shocking reports of attacks on Rohingya civilians by the Myanmar military, including the firing of machine guns and mortars toward fleeing civilians, are particularly disturbing and deserve unequivocal international condemnation.
RI appreciates that the Government of Myanmar may seek to hold accountable perpetrators of attacks on government facilities, but that cannot justify gross abuses of civilians under any circumstances.
We are also deeply concerned about State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s unsubstantiated accusations of international NGO complicity in acts of terrorism and the dangerous effects such comments could have on the humanitarian situation. International humanitarian access is already limited and direct threats against those trying to help will only make the situation worse.
RI further urges the Government of Bangladesh to open its borders to those fleeing the violence in Myanmar and to work with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) toward an optimally coordinated emergency response that ensures protection and humanitarian assistance to those in need.
RI urges immediate international attention and assistance to address the escalating tensions and violence in Rakhine State. The world must speak with a unified voice in urging the Government of Myanmar to end attacks on civilians, to allow humanitarian access, and to respond in a manner that ensures protection of all innocent civilians.