MSF to resume activities in Myanmar

YANGON - Medecins Sans Frontires Holland (MSF) will resume ''part of the activities'' in Myanmar on Monday after a green light from the Myanmar government.

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''After dialogue with the Union Government in Nay Pyi Taw on Feb 28, we have now been informed by the minister of health and the minister of home affairs that we can resume part of the activities as covered by our original memorandum of understanding on Monday March 3,'' it said in a statement.  ''This includes HIV/Aids and other activities in Kachin and Shan states, as well as Yangon region.''

''Whilst we are encouraged by this and will resume these activities for now, MSF remains extremely concerned about the fate of tens of thousands of vulnerable people in Rakhine state who currently face a humanitarian medical crisis,'' it added.

MSF Holland's clinics in Rakhine remain closed since Friday, following a verbal communication from Rakhine state authorities to suspend our activities.

The medical aid organisation is one of the main providers of treatment to  HIV/Aids patients across Myanmar.

The Myanmar government denied reports it expelled MSF from the country, saying that group had only been ''temporarily suspended'' from working 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.

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 Jan14,''  MSF Myanmar Deputy Head of Mission Simon Tyler was quoted as saying.

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