Malaysian NGOs plan to send aid flotilla to help Rohingyas in Myanmar

The flotilla, organised by a coalition of aid groups, has yet to receive permission to enter Myanmar

Reuters December 30, 2016
A banner is tied to barbed-wire outside the Myanmar embassy during a protest against what organisers say is the crackdown on ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, in Jakarta, Indonesia November 25, 2016 PHOTO: REUTERS

KAULA LUMPUR: An aid flotilla carrying food and emergency supplies for Rohingya Muslims will sail from Malaysia for Myanmar's troubled Rakhine State next month, the Malaysian organiser said on Friday.

The flotilla, organised by a coalition of aid groups, has yet to receive permission to enter Myanmar, sparking fears of a confrontation with security forces that could worsen Myanmar's already-frayed ties with predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

'They raped us one by one,' says Rohingya woman who fled Myanmar

Malaysia has been an outspoken critic of the Myanmar government's handling of a violent crackdown in Rakhine, which has killed scores of people and displaced 300,000 Rohingya, amid allegations of abuses by security forces.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations secretary-general Zulhanis Zainol said the flotilla's organisers had applied for permission to enter Myanmar through its embassy in Kuala Lumpur, but had yet to receive a reply.

"Even if we do not receive a response, we will continue to sail as we believe this is an important humanitarian mission," he said.

Myanmar Rohingya abuse may be 'crimes against humanity': UN

Myanmar's presidential office denied it had received a request and said it would not accept the flotilla's arrival without prior permission.

"If they are looking for trouble, we will not accept that," Zaw Htay, spokesman for the presidential office, told Reuters.

"No non-Myanmar citizens can enter our body of water without our permission. If they do, we will respond - we will not attack them, but we will not receive them."

The flotilla, departing from Malaysia on Jan. 10, would be carrying 1,000 tonnes of rice, medical aid and other essentials for the Rohingya population.

Myanmar's Rohingya insurgency has links to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan: report

Earlier this month, Malaysia urged the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to coordinate humanitarian aid and investigate alleged atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims. Both Malaysia and Myanmar are members of the 10-nation grouping, which has a long-standing policy of not getting involved in each other's internal affairs.

An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Rohingyas, displaced by previous violence, live in Malaysia.

Myanmar has previously said access to Rakhine for humanitarian assistance would be open, but certain Rohingya communities have remained off-limits to aid agencies on security grounds.


Oommen | 4 years ago | Reply why can't Malaysia take all refugees instead of this drama ? Philippines are far better than these ones.... same with syrian refugees. (so called brothers refused to help and send away to Europe) Turks even made a profit. Myanmar is ruthless and fiercely independent country. They recently kicked Chinese out.
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