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UN warns of health crisis brewing in west Myanmar

YANGON - More than 800,000 people lack adequate healthcare in strife-torn western Myanmar after aid workers fled the region, the UN has warned, with children deprived of life-saving treatment.

A wave of attacks against humanitarian workers in Rakhine state has choked off health, water and food supplies to isolated communities and camps for people displaced by deadly sectarian violence.

The exodus worsened an already dire medical situation for hundreds of thousands of people left without access to treatment after the government in February ordered aid group Doctors Without Borders to leave the region following protests against them.

International relief groups in Rakhine have come under mounting pressure from local Buddhists who accuse them of bias towards Muslims.

Health services for most of the 140,000 displaced people in Rakhine and more than 700,000 vulnerable people outside the camps are "severely hampered", Liviu Vedrasco of the World Health Organisation said in a joint UN statement with humanitarian groups released late Wednesday.

Life-saving therapeutic treatment for more than 300 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition has been suspended in the state capital Sittwe, the statement said.

"Without the immediate and full restoration of an enabling and secure environment to re-establish essential life-saving assistance, the humanitarian situation will rapidly deteriorate, putting children and their families at even greater risk," said Kelland Stevenson, country director for Save the Children.

AFP


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