After sustained protest by Rakhine locals about MSF's alleged 'bias activities' favouring Rohingyas, the Burmese government ordered suspension of that organization. This, definitely, is serving well to the RNDP agenda of marginalizing Rohingyas: removing Rohingya supporters, the MSF, to be the first step!
Remember, MSF is the very same NGO which vehemently opposed, and expressed 'grave concerns', at the UNHCR's organized "voluntary repatriation" of 1994. The MSF organization, obviously then, went into Rakhine State and operating under the shadows of MOU signed by UNHCR and Burmese Government. This incident should be a great eye opener for the MSF -- whilst in no doubt magnificent in delivering humanitarian services to a targeted population -- not to be too self-righteous about everything going-on around it.
Perhaps what MSF needs to do at this stage is to compile some "Awareness Survey" of what the local Rakhines know & think about its operation in Rakhine State. Or even better, do a proper survey of its own staffs on that awareness and reflect upon what went wrong.
Burmese Government, on the otherhand, is too heavy handed in handling this case. Wouldn't it be sufficient just to review the MSF operations within Rakhine State? I have emphasized the needs for international assistance given to the Rohingyas also benefit local Rakhine population in my communication to Under Secretary General Jan Eliasson ( http://www.netipr.org/uneoo/file.php?f=u54uFf.Iqe5fv.7 ) as early as 1993.
All the NGOs and our Rohingya supporters alike should be aware that ultra-nationalist groups like RNDP will always draw their strength upon un-informed masses, such as those Rakhine locals who participated in the march aganist MSF/Foreign-NGOs protests in Rakhine State. Extra efforts are needed to educate these masses. This shouldn't be the job of a single media outlet nor an organization nor, even, a government. Everyone concerned within society must get involved.
U Ne Oo, Australia.
28 February 2014
Myanmar: MSF concerned about the fate of thousands of patients after being ordered to cease activities
Amsterdam, 28 February 2014 - Médecins Sans Frontières Holland (MSF) has been ordered by the Union Government of Myanmar to cease all activities in the country. MSF is deeply shocked by this unilateral decision and extremely concerned about the fate of tens of thousands of patients currently under our care across the country.
Today, for the first time in MSF’s history of operations in the country, HIV/AIDS clinics in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, as well as Yangon division, were closed and patients were unable to receive the treatment they needed. TB patients were unable to receive their life-saving medicine, including drug-resistant TB patients.
This decision by the Union Government will have a devastating impact on the 30,000 HIV/AIDS patients and more than 3,000 TB patients we are currently treating in Myanmar.
In Rakhine state, MSF was unable to provide basic healthcare to the tens of thousands of vulnerable people in camps displaced by the ongoing humanitarian crisis or in isolated villages. This includes facilitating life-saving referrals for patients that require emergency secondary hospital care to Ministry of Health facilities, as well as family planning and care for pregnant women and newborn babies.
There is no other medical non-government organisation that operates at the scale of MSF with the experience and infrastructure to deliver necessary life-saving medical services.
22 years of presence
In our 22 years of presence in Myanmar, MSF has proven that we deliver healthcare to people based solely on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, HIV status or political affiliation.
Since 2004, MSF has treated over 1,240,000 malaria patients in Rakhine state alone, where the disease is particularly endemic. Like HIV/AIDS and TB, malaria knows no ethnic boundaries.
MSF’s actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality. MSF is in discussions with the Government of Myanmar to allow our staff to resume life-saving medical activities across the country and continuing addressing the unmet heath needs of its people.