Kyaw Ye Lynn
YANGON, Myanmar (AA): A military crackdown has left more than 220,000 Rohingya people on the brink of starvation in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Rakhine state, according to an assessment by the United Nations food agency.
The World Food Program (WFP) said late Monday that food insecurity has been worsening in already highly vulnerable areas in the northern part of Rakhine state since the military crackdown, which began last October.
The WFP assessment said nearly one-third of the population in the area, where Rohingya Muslims are the majority, were identified as severely food-insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance, with an estimated 225,800 people suffering from hunger.
“None of the children covered in the survey met the minimum adequate diet,” said the assessment, based on interviews with 450 families in 45 villages in the area.
It added that an estimated 80,500 children under the age of 5 will be in need of treatment for acute malnutrition within the next 12 months.
The release of the WFP assessment came one day after a top UN human rights investigators began a 12-day visit to Myanmar to access the human rights situation in the country.
Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, arrived in the country’s capital Nay Pyi Taw on Sunday, and is scheduled to visit the conflict-prone areas, including Rakhine state.
Last October Myanmar’s military launched a crackdown following the killing of nine police officers in the Maungdaw district near the country’s western border with Bangladesh.
During the crackdown, the UN and rights groups have documented widespread abuses by security forces such as killings — including the deaths of children and babies — gang rapes, brutal beatings, the burning of villages, and disappearances.
-US urges visas for UN probe commission
Separately, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has urged Myanmar to reverse its decision to deny visas to a UN investigative team.
On June 30, Myanmar announced it would deny visas to members of a fact-finding mission, established by the Human Rights Council earlier this year, to investigate rights violations by security forces.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley urged Myanmar — using its former name, Burma — to change course, saying: “It is important that the Burmese government allow this fact-finding mission to do its job. The international community cannot overlook what is happening in Burma — we must stand together and call on the government to fully cooperate with this fact-finding mission.”
Her statement added: “Violence in Rakhine state against ethnic and religious communities continues to claim lives. In addition, there are allegations of sexual violence against women and children. The total number of victims will be unknown unless the fact-finding mission is allowed to proceed. However, the UN estimates that more than 90,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes in northern Rakhine state since last October.”