Myanmar has kicked humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders out of the country, placing thousands of its citizens, especially the 30,000 or so people those suffering from HIV/AIDS, at risk by denying them access to medical treatment in the states of Kachin, Rakhime and Shan.
According to the organization, the move came after they treated nearly two dozen Rohingya Muslims, including women and children victims of communal violence, which government officials have denied. However, Myanmar's presidential spokesman Ye Htut had criticized Doctors Without Borders in the Myanmar Freedom newspaper for hiring "Bengalis," (the government term Rohingya minority) and claimed that it “lacked transparency in its work.”
Ye Hut also accused the group of “misleading the world about an attack last month in the remote northern part of Rakhine,” where the UN states that “more than 40 Rohingya may have been killed by a Buddhist mob that rampaged through a village.”
Ethnic violence has been escalating in the region during the past few years as Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has begun to emerge after 50 years of military rule. It is believed that nearly “ 280 people have been killed and tens of thousands more have fled their homes” so far. The country, which is home to approximately 60 million people (making it the 24th most populated country in the world. About 68% of the people there are Buddhist.
Doctors Without Borders has been a presence in the nation for more than 20 years. However, they stated that since the violence broke out in June 2012, they have worked in 15 camps for the displaced people in Rakhine state alone, and helped “smooth the referral process for emergency transport from some camps,” though it has found it increasingly difficult to operate there without the government’s support.
In the meantime the US government has been urging Myanmar officials to allow “unhampered” access to humanitarian groups and protect all its citizens.