Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Cologne/Yangon. Malteser International is deeply concerned about the attacks which started last Wednesday against the premises of international relief organizations and the United Nations in Sittwe, Rakhine State, and calls all involved actors for a joint effort to reopen the humanitarian space in Sittwe again. “As of now, no aid services are functioning in the region. If humanitarian aid cannot be restarted quickly, this will have a severe impact on the humanitarian situation on the ground”, says Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International. Ethnic violence has been ongoing in Rakhine State since 2012.
According to Malteser International staff on the ground, it is estimated that 90 per cent of all premises of international relief organizations and of the UN in Sittwe were attacked with stones by unidentified groups. Many offices – including the office of Malteser International - were entered and furniture and equipment destroyed. No casualties have been reported so far, but the situation can easily escalate into violence. “We are very concerned that the riots might also spread to neighbouring districts”, Radtke states.
Malteser International as well as further international relief organisations in Sittwe have temporarily suspended their relief activities in Sittwe. In cooperation with other international organisations and the respective embassies, the organization has temporarily relocated its international as well as parts of its national staff to Yangon. At present, Malteser International does not see any threat for its national resident staff members in Sittwe.
Malteser International has been working in Myanmar since 2001 and in Rakhine State since 2003 and is currently active in Sittwe with three international staff members from America and Uruguay and 85 local staff members running health, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) as well as disaster risk reduction programs for the population. In northern Rakhine, Malteser International’s projects are currently not affected, so the organization can continue its work in cooperation with the local communities.
For further background information about the situation in Sittwe, please see Malteser International’s statement from March 27, 2014.
Attention editors: Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International, is available for interviews.
About Malteser International: Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity – without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int
Petra Ipp-Zavazal, Communications Manager
+49 (0) 221 98 22 155
North, Central & South American media
Joice Biazoto, Communications Manager