Sunday 26 August 2012

Indonesian Red Cross sends team to Myanmar

Asia Pacific News, 25 Aug

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Red Cross sent a team of aid workers on Saturday to western Myanmar, where deadly sectarian violence in June left dozens dead and thousands of Rohingya displaced.

The eight-member team took off in a military jet from an airbase in the capital Jakarta in the morning with 500 hygiene kits, 3,000 blankets and 10,000 sarongs for the first phase of their mission.

"This is an agreement between the president of Myanmar and the Indonesian Red Cross," Indonesian Red Cross chief Jusuf Kalla told reporters.

"We expect the team to stay for around a year, but that will depend on coordination with the government and other Red Cross and Red Crescent teams."

Sectarian violence between ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya has flared in Rakhine state, where clashes in June left around 80 people dead, according to official estimates deemed low by rights groups.

Villages were razed and an estimated 70,000 people, the majority of them Rohingya, were left displaced in government-run camps and shelters.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other.

Myanmar has set up a commission to probe the clashes after facing heavy criticism from rights groups.

Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.


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