Myanmar denies kicking MSF out of country

national March 02, 2014 00:00

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Yangon - Myanmar denied reports it expelled medical aid organization Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) from the country, saying that group had only been "temporarily suspended" from working in the western state of Rakhine, media reports said Sunday.

"The government will allow its operations in other regions and states for the sake of the people," the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported.

Authorities and MSF agreed Friday that "all functions being operated by MSF Holland in Rakhine State will be temporarily suspended," the daily cited Health Ministry officials as saying.

MSF-Holland is one of the main providers of treatment to HIV/AIDS patients across Myanmar.

Its suspension in the Rakhine follows local protests at its alleged support of the Rohingya ethnic minority group.

The Muslim group has been the target of sectarian violence since 2012, when communal clashes broke out in the Rakhine sparked by the alleged rape and murder of a Rakhine-Buddhist woman by Muslims.

The violence has claimed up to 200 dead and left 140,000 people displaced, mostly Rohingyas, who are not recognised in the official list of Myanmar's ethnic groups.

Anti-MSF protests were sparked last month by claims that the humanitarian group had treated 22 Rohingya patients injured in attacks by Rakhine-Buddhists in January, The Irrawaddy magazine reported Wednesday.  The government has denied January's massacre, which reportedly left scores dead.

MSF was not immediately available for comment Sunday, but told The Irrawaddy last week that it "has never released any incorrect information about the incident."

"Our staff treated 22 patients in the area near Du Char Yar Tan village from a variety of violence-related injuries in the days after January14,"  MSF Myanmar Deputy Head of Mission Simon Tyler was quoted as saying.


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