Norway deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Rakhine - ‘The authorities have a particular responsibility to stop the violence’

‘We are deeply concerned about the escalation of violence and the deterioration in the humanitarian situation of the Rohingya, the Muslim minority in Rakhine state in Myanmar. All groups must show restraint. The authorities, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, have a particular responsibility to protect civilians from abuses, to stop the violence and to ensure humanitarian access,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

A large number of people, most of them Rohingya Muslims, have recently been forced to flee their homes because of the violence. According to reports by the authorities, 400 people have been killed. At the same time, humanitarian organisations have had to withdraw personnel from the area due to the security situation and government restrictions. 

The situation for minorities in Rakhine state has been difficult for many years. Foreign Minister Brende raised this issue at a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar in July.

‘Humanitarian organisations have had to reduce or stop their aid to civilians despite the acute situation. This is extremely serious. We will continue to raise the issue of humanitarian access in our contact with the authorities in Myanmar,’ Mr Brende said. 

The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which is chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, recently submitted its final report and recommendations. Norway has provided support for the Commission. Mr Brende met representatives of the Advisory Commission during his visit to Myanmar. 

‘The situation in Rakhine cannot be resolved through violence. It is encouraging that the Myanmar authorities have expressed their intention to implement the recommendations in the Advisory Commission’s report. Developments over the past few days show how important this is. Norway is prepared to assist the Myanmar authorities in this work,’ said Mr Brende.

Foreign Minister Brende announced today that Norway is increasing its humanitarian aid to the vulnerable civilian population in Rakhine.

‘We are now increasing our humanitarian support by NOK 15 million. We are in close contact with organisations that have access and the capacity to provide humanitarian aid in the affected area,’ Mr Brende said.

One of the organisations Norway is supporting is the World Food Programme, which had to stop its distribution of food to the vulnerable population in Rakhine in the middle of June. According to the World Food Programme, 250 000 people in northern and central parts of Rakhine no longer have regular access to food. Norway has supported humanitarian efforts in this area for a number of years, including the Norwegian Refugee Council’s work to provide education and shelter for internally displaced persons, efforts to combat human trafficking, and projects to foster dialogue and contact across ethnic and religious divides.  

The situation in Rakhine has escalated significantly since 25 August, when armed rebels launched an attack on security forces. Norway has condemned this attack.